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Open Thread: Buying vs. renting in Detroit

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

Welcome to Friday Open Threads, wherein we'll pass the mic to readers to speak up about topics of interest, distress, horror, and more. Have something you want discussed? Let us know. This week’s topic: Is it better to buy or rent right now in Detroit?

In a recent chat with other Curbed editors about rent in our respective cities, a few editors noted that it’s nearly impossible to actually buy property in their city because real estate was so expensive there. Detroit, and many other Rust Belt or Midwestern cities, has fairly inexpensive housing. But it comes with its challenges.

So we’re posing the question: Is it better to rent or buy in Detroit right now?

Rent is still fairly affordable in the city (it’s more expensive in downtown, Midtown, and West Village) compared to other big cities. But with rent, there’s always the concern that the renter is just throwing their money away. And there are plenty of terrible landlords out there.

Whereas with buying, you’re making an investment. Can we trust that investment here? Detroit real estate prices are all over the place, and many people are wondering if we’re facing a bubble here. Real estate experts are telling us it’s very much a seller’s market right now. The Mies van der Rohe co-ops were hot last year, but cooling significantly as of late. Condos are scarce (while developers keep building more apartments instead of condos). Flips are listing for much more than other homes in their neighborhoods. If one is interested in an older house, they may face road blocks in assessments and having enough money for renovations.

What do you think, Curbed readers? Have you recently bought real estate? Are you renting? Do you want to buy a house and having trouble finding the right one? Let us know what you think in the comments.