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Come to Detroit: We Have the Most Affordable Housing and Our Own TV Show

Detroit hit the spotlight with two separate events on September 21.  The first was the debut of “Detroit 1-8-7,” a new police drama on ABC.  While I didn’t watch the premiere episode (I just don’t like watching TV at 10:00 at night), I have read numerous reviews (a Detroit premiere occurred a while back) and been inundated this morning with a host of conflicting opinions from residents across the city and suburbs.  I doubt that I will see the show – though maybe an online viewing, without commercials, is a possibility – but I am gratified to know that the majority of it is actually filmed in and around Detroit and not on a sound stage in California.  Detroit is a city of contrasts, rather than the single vision that is often portrayed in the media – and I can only hope that the show is true to that vision and depicts us as we truly are.

The second event is the release of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC’s 2010 Home Listing Report.

This report provides a snapshot survey of four-bedroom, two-bathroom home listings across the United States.  It is incredible that they found a $1.7 million difference between America’s most expensive and most affordable housing markets.  The U.S. average for the surveyed listings was approximately $353,000.

Where is it least affordable?  One would probably guess an ocean-front community on one of the coasts and this would be correct.  Newport Beach, Calif., led the list of most expensive real estate markets in America, with an average home listing price of approximately $1.83 million for property listings meeting the four bedroom/two bath criteria.  According to the press release Newport Beach is “known for its sandy beaches and historic Balboa Pavilion (established in 1906).” It’s also been the backdrop to numerous television shows including “The O.C.” and “Arrested Development.” 

The other end of the affordability index brought us home. The study found Detroit, Michigan to be America’s most affordable housing market, with an average home listing price of approximately $68,000.  What a difference 1,976 miles and a little water (we do have a mighty nice river view and lakes within spitting distance) make.  Here’s what the press release said about us: “Detroit, the most affordable market, is the only major U.S. city that looks South to Canada.  Residents of the Motor City take great pride in Red Wings hockey and appreciate the city’s hard-working industrial and automotive history.”  Why isn’t our TV show mentioned?

California has six of the most expensive markets, with one each in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii.

Affordability is a Midwest virtue.  Detroit is joined by Grayling and Port Huron in Michigan, and rounded out by Cleveland and Canton in Ohio; Sioux City, Iowa; Topeka, Kansas; Muncie, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri and Norfolk, Nebraska.

As a city, region and state, we must begin to turn around our population trends.  We cannot continue to shrink – both demographically and economically.  However, I am afraid that too much notoriety may start a wave of growth that we can’t manage.

Ah…the Ying and the Yang.