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Ann Arbor Real Estate Blog

Blog about Ann Arbor and Saline Michigan

“Affordable Housing” in Ann Arbor

In 1979, my husband and I bought our first home in Auburn, Alabama. It was a brand new home with 1300. S. F. for 39,000. We went FHA, and my parents, and grandparents helped us with the down-payment of 3%. It was a cute little house, with a corner fireplace, huge master-bedroom suite, walk in closet and I loved it.

In December of 1980, we had our first baby there, Christa, who is now my Partner is Real Estate. In August that year, my husband was “called’ to Michigan. There were skid markets all the way from the South to the Mid-West with me dragging my feet.

When we arrived and I shared with our Realtor what we were coming from and what I hoped to find in a home. She said, “Well, that will cost $100,000. to buy in Ann Arbor.” We were paying $350.00 per year in property taxes in Auburn, AL and the taxes here were around $2,200.00 adding to the less amount of home we could buy.

After looking for a month, in August of 1980, and HATING everything we could afford, we moved in to a townhouse apartment, that is now a condo conversion and sells for $160,000.

After about 9 months of living there, our Realtor called us to tell us, she thought she had found us a home that was listed at $69,000.00 with a $3000.00 decorating allowance. The family was moving to TX. Mr. Seller was already there and school was out so Mrs. Seller was anxious to join him. They had reduced the home from 100K to 69K. So we took a look…

Replacing CarpetYuk, orange and brown bold vinyl wall paper, dated kitchen, brown carpet. But, we bought it. I hated paying rent. The best news of all is that the owners would accept an 11% land contract. Interest rates at the time were 18%. So we moved in, re-carpeted, painted the whole house, painted the kitchen and lived there for one month shy of when the land contract was due. I sold it by owner for full price. We made 36,000 on the house.

Then we moved (can you believe this?) down the street into a four bedroom home, where we also stayed for also 5 years. That home was in move in condition. (It was hilarious to see our friends walking the swing set down the street.) We loved it there and would not have moved but baby number 5 was on the way and we couldn’t get everyone around the kitchen table in the nook. We bought the home for $110,000.

Close to 5 years later, I sold the house myself in one hour, to another neighbor who lived in the street over. She was helping her daughter with her paper route, when we put the sign in the yard. Then we were able to purchase a lot and build the home we are still in Saline, MI.

Ann Arbor has always had issue with “affordable housing”. Many people could not afford to purchase homes in Ann Arbor so they would start out in Ypsilanti, Manchester Milan or other smaller communities around Washtenaw County.

Guess What?

Ann Arbor is now affordable.

In the 1980’s, Michigan and the rest of the country were going through a recession. Housing prices were coming down. It afforded us the opportunity to own a home in Michigan.

I grieve everyday when I have to tell my sellers that their home prices have come down. I have turned down so many listings that I know I can not sell for what they owe or want. It was getting so bad, I had even considered taking them over-priced and doing what many Realtors do, keep asking for price reductions. But, it is just not my nature to not tell them the truth.

Bottom line for us in Michigan, this has allowed many home buyers to purchase their first homes in Ann Arbor. Had it not been for the recession when we moved here, I may still be renting.

In the midst of the current market conditions, there is a silver lining for buyers.

There is “affordable housing” in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

***Photos courtesy of Flickr, KCkellners for carpet***

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11 thoughts on ““Affordable Housing” in Ann Arbor

  1. Missy, this story delighted me. I saw much of my own first time home buying experience with yours (paid $38,000). Unlike you though I merely moved across the county, not the country!

    I had heard for years and years that the Ann Arbor area wasn’t affordable for young people – first time home buyers, but that certainly has changed and I’m happy to hear it. Your area has so much to offer: Outstanding schools, wonderful entertainment, a good business base, etc.

    As disheartening as it is for home sellers, the joy you are finding with buyers being able to purchase in your area must make you and your buyers agents very happy.

  2. HI Kris, yes it is now affordable in Ann Arbor and buyers should take advantage if they have wanted to live in the city. Aprox 42 homes under 200K.

  3. Missy – I enjoy your story and your blog. Had I read your blog earlier, I would have saved some $. We bought our first new house at AA in 1999 for 200k, then we moved to our second new house at Saline in 2006. We made the move because our kids went to Washtenaw Christian Academy – an excellent school. Less than 2 months after our move, Pfizer announced to close Pfizer AA site. We had to move out of state last summer. We have tried to sell or rent out our Saline house for about 10 months without success. I hope buyers are not too scared about taking advantage of the good buying opportunity.

  4. Michael, thanks. I was on the School Board before it was WCA, when it was Saline Christian. That is how we ended up in Saline too.
    There is a big pick up in activity in the Washtenaw County Area right now. I am even seeing multiple offers, but the ones going first are those priced at a value for the buyers.

  5. Missy – We do have a lot in common. I only have 3 kids though.
    My ex-Pfizer colleagues who stay with Pfizer have 100k cushion in equity loss so they can afford to cut back significantly in price. The bargains may soon disappear as most of them have moved out of AA.

  6. Yes, the majority of the Pfizer homes are gone. I am listing one this week that they got to stay because they have a Sr. in High School. Wish me luck. I still get calls with people asking to see Pfizer homes.
    I am assuming you are still in pharmacuticals, (not spelled right) ?
    I sold a house last year where someone left Pfizer but negotiated the same deal with his new company. They lived in Chelsea.

  7. That is surprising that there is many places anywhere that are affordable. There are a few places here in Reno still cheap, however we are booming like much the rest of the country. It will be interesting to see what kind of long term effects the current downturn has.

  8. Missy – Yes, I am still in the pharmaceutical industry with another company at Indy. My new company will reimburse the closing cost of selling my house at Saline before the end of August.


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