River House co-op has a number of units for sale, including Apartment 218, a one-bedroom, one-bath. The low price reflects a unique ownership type that most Detroit home buyers will find novel: cooperative housing. The tenants in a co-op building own shares in the property and have control over the individual units they live in. Co-ops promise the conveniences of condo living (snow removal, landscaping, communal areas) at a much lower price. The co-op as a collective owns the whole building, and new tenants' buy-in money gives them voting rights over building management issues including how the co-op spends money on renovations and maintenance and over allowing new tenants to buy into the building.
River House was built in 1955, and has a mid-century modern feel. One unit up for sale has original kitchen cabinets in a 60s space-age modular style. Units come in a variety of styles, because tenants are encouraged to make changes and customize. Tenants also pay a monthly homeowners' association fee of $587 that covers all utilities, maintenance to the property and taxes on the unit.
While the idea seems interesting, especially the idea of condo living downtown at a fraction of the usual price, many of River House's units are up for sale, perhaps reflecting the typical problems co-op life presents: It takes many appointments with a co-op board and be voted into a building, and once that happens, tenants need co-op approval for major renovations. There are also limitations on how (and to whom) tenants might sell units. But there are clear pros, too. $15K at River House buys a one-bedroom unit with views of the water, 24-hour reception and security, and a heated pool outside for summer recreation. - Rebecca Golden
· 8900 E Jefferson Ave APT 218 [Zillow]
· River House [official website]