Detroit Mortgage Numbers “Pathetic” But Increasing

A look at how mortgage and cash sales are playing out in two Northwest Detroit neighborhoods.

WDET/Laura Herberg

Nate and Amber Hunt had been looking for a home in Detroit’s University District for more than a year and a half when they finally found “the one.”  

“It felt like home almost immediately when we walked in,” says Nate. “Every room we walked through we were just like like ‘Yeah, this is the place.’”

The Hunts sent a photo and letter describing them and their newborn daughter Magnolia to beat out other bids – and it worked. They’re financing the purchase with a 30-year conventional mortgage, and that puts them in the minority for Detroiters.

In Detroit last year, only about 700 homes — or 20 percent of real estate sales — were purchased with a mortgage. That’s up from around 500 — or 18 percent of sales — in 2015.  Still, the vast majority of houses are being paid for in cash.

WDET plotted these sales on a map [see interactive map below] and found that mortgages tend to be clustering in established neighborhoods like those found in the Grandmont-Rosedale area, Boston Edison, New Center, Midtown, Brush Park, Indian Village, East English Village and the University District.

[Click here to hear reporters Laura Herberg and Joel Kurth talk more about Detroit’s mortgage numbers on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson]

In the area surrounding Livernois Avenue, just north of McNichols Road, there’s a split in types of sales: one side is mostly mortgages while the other is mostly cash.

In collaboration with Bridge Magazine, WDET set out to find out what this division looks like on the ground. Along the way, we interviewed the Hunts, investor Peter Whittaker and renter Marie Soloman.

               Click on the audio player above to hear the feature story or read Bridge’s expanded article here.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Detroit Mortgage and Cash Sales for 2016

Source: Data from Realcomp Ltd. II

For more information on why Detroit has a mortgage issue, as well as a look at two programs designed to address the problem, check out WDET’s previous coverage: Buyer Assistance Programs Aim to Increase Home Purchases in Detroit.


  • Melissa Mason
    UM-Dearborn Political Science student. Thought interning at WDET would be interesting. Does data for “Detroit By The Numbers” and assists with “Detroit Today.”
  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.