Buyer to Pay $1 for House in Detroit

Deal is called an investment, buyer plans to pay in cash

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Tip the pizza guy or buy a house? In Detroit, it's a tossup.

From the Detroit News:

The fact that a home on the city's east side was listed for $1 recently shows how depressed the real estate market has become in one of America's poorest big cities.

And it still took 19 days to find a buyer...

Put on the market in January for $1,100, the house had no lookers other than the squatters who sometimes stayed there at night. Facing $4,000 in back taxes and a large unpaid water bill, the bank that owned the property lowered the price to $1...

While it's not unusual for $1 to be exchanged when property is transferred for legal reasons, listing a home in the Multiple Listing Service for $1 was surprising and unsettling to Kent Colpaert, the listing real estate agent for the property.

"I've never seen a home listed for $1," Colpaert said.

So desperate was the bank owner of 8111 Traverse Street to unload the property that it agreed to pay $2,500 in sales commission and another $1,000 bonus for closing the $1 sale; the bank also will pay $500 of the buyer's closing costs. Throw in back taxes and a water bill, and unloading the house will cost the bank about $10,000....

The deal has not yet closed. But who is this aspiring real estate mogul? The real estate agent refused to identify her by name but did offer some details.

The agent did say that the buyer agreed to pay the full list price of $1, and planned to pay cash.

The buyer, a local woman, considers the home to be an investment property and will not live there, Colpaert said, though exactly how soon the buyer can expect to recoup her four-quarter investment is questionable. Replacing the guts of the house will costs tens of thousands of dollars, and the owner will have trouble keeping scrappers from stealing the improvements as quickly as they're installed. Home demolition costs about $5,000, Colpaert said.

Meanwhile, the new owner will owe $3,900 in property taxes in 2009 on her dollar purchase unless she challenges the tax assessment.