More people in Detroit bought houses with mortgages last year than in 2015. Still, the vast majority of houses sold were paid for in cash.
WDET plotted these sales on a map and found that in the Livernois Avenue and McNichols area, there’s a split. Houses on the east side of Livernois are mostly financed by mortgages, whereas those on the west side are purchased mostly with cash.
“You hear the steady drumbeat of stories about Detroit’s comeback,” says Kurth. “But this is really sort of cold water to that [showing] just how far you have to go. I think it really paints a picture of this ‘have and have nots’ narrative that we’re hearing time and again in Detroit… People who are typically buying things with cash tend to be investors, tend to be landlords. This is a city that, not too long ago, had one of the highest homeownership rates among African Americans. It was really a pillar and point of pride for the nation… and we rapidly are becoming more so a city of renters, which is not what you want to be.”
Kurth believes that the picture is encouraging, overall, explaining that if Detroit is at ground zero, then “anything is up.” Still, it might be hard to tell what these changes in the housing market will really mean in the long run.
“It’s interesting to see if the scales are going to be tipped,” says Herberg, “because cash sales tend to beget cash sales. And mortgages… when they happen at a higher price point, when somebody is able to renovate a home through some of the programs that are out there, then in theory, that will lead to more mortgages.”
To hear the full conversation on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, click the audio player above.