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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The cheapest real estate in America goes on sale this weekend. Seven hundred houses will be sold at auction. These houses have clean titles and no liens or other outstanding claims. There are no reserves...
I expect 75% of these houses will sell for less than $15,000. Many of them will be bought for less than $5,000. Keep in mind, it cost the city $2,000 just to hook these houses up with sewer and water when they were built.
I'll tell you how to peruse these houses online at the end of this letter... but if you're serious about making an investment that simply cannot lose money, I suggest you get yourself on the next plane to Detroit...
I went to Detroit three months ago. The place was eerie. On one hand, you can tell it used to be wealthy. Without knowing anything about architecture, it's clear the top architects of the period designed Detroit's skyscrapers. They are beautiful... and so numerous, they reminded me of midtown Manhattan for a second. Many of these skyscrapers were made entirely of brick. They call it art deco, I think.
At one time, Detroit was so glamorous, people called it "Paris of the West."
Now Detroit feels like a scene from a zombie movie. It was midday on a Monday. Except for a few bums and a handful of office workers, the city was empty. The streets had scant traffic and none of the hustle and bustle you feel in other big cities.
Other than a single Subway shop, I saw no fast food restaurants, convenience stores, or retailers of any description in downtown Detroit. Most of the skyscrapers are vacant. Windows are boarded up, smashed, or just swinging on their hinges.
USA Today says, more than 1 million people have left this city since 1950, and its population is now only 850,000. The exodus is still happening. The only city in America draining population faster is New Orleans.
There aren't enough jobs in Detroit. Michigan has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation – at 14% – behind only Mississippi.
Michigan was only state to see house prices fall in 2006. In Detroit, there is a foreclosure for every 29 houses.
"Leases Now Available" "For Sale By Owner" "Free utilities" Everywhere you look, space is available. I hired a real estate expert to show me around the city. Sometimes, when I was eager to see the top of a skyscraper, he would drive down the left had side of the street so I could get a better view. At one point, we drove the wrong way up a one-way street. We pulled u-turns wherever we wanted.
It didn't matter. There was no traffic anywhere.
Also, Detroit is a green city. Tall grass and weeds overrun all those abandoned houses, warehouses and factories. Entire blocks have vanished. In Detroit they call these "urban prairies." I wasn't surprised to learn that foxes had invaded Detroit. They found one wandering past the courthouse the other day.
You could say, Detroit is being reclaimed by nature.
The thing is I like investments that can't go down. But before I invest in Detroit, I want to know there's plenty of upside potential, too.
I think there is.
For one, politicians roll out the red carpet for any firm that relocates to Detroit, with tax breaks, subsidies, and incentives. Detroit has a fantastic industrial infrastructure and a well-educated workforce. And lastly, the auto industry could rebound. It may take several high-profile bankruptcies and a serious reorganization, but it'll happen eventually.
Google opened up an office near Detroit recently and Hemlock Semiconductor is investing $1 billion in a new plant to the north of Detroit...
Hudson and Marshall is in charge of the auction, which runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. To browse the 700 properties online, go to their website at www.hudsonandmarshall.com...
These houses may not be beautiful. They may not even be inhabitable. But I guarantee you'll get a deal that will be so cheap, you can't lose money on it...
DON'T BUY THE CROP, BUY THE TRACTORS
The extraordinary run-up in corn and wheat prices has left farmers with a difficult decision: how to spend the extra cash.
Much to the delight of Deere & Co. (DE), the answer was on new combines and tractors. The farmers, in an effort to squeeze as much profit as possible from their harvest, are upgrading to more efficient equipment and buying new equipment for new farmlands.
Deere has ridden the wave of the agriculture boom to an all-time high. It is up 75% in one year.While the increased profits have been nice, Deere can't depend on ethanol demand and bad weather to boost its stock price forever.