Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Flint Real Estate: To the Manor Born

The post on the remarkably low-priced house on Woodside Drive generated a lot of comments from readers. I asked Ryan Eashoo, a real estate agent I interviewed in Flint this summer, to offer his perspective on the house and the Flint market. Here's what he had to say:
The home at 1143 Woodside Dr., Flint, MI 48503 does indeed have an offer on it at this time due to the low list price. Unfortunately, the City of Flint has witnessed a steep decline in real estate market values over the past 3 years. In the news you hear of a price decline of approx. 10% in values, however, it has been my experience in the City of Flint that homes are worth 50% + less than what they were just 5 years prior. This is due to the high volume of foreclosure listings and sales in the area.

I find that the banks selling their foreclosure listings are pricing them under market value, making other homes around them worth less as well. The home on Woodside was a short sale (meaning the seller is working with the bank to sell for less than what the home is worth) and a majority of sales transactions in the College/Cultural neighborhood are short sales. Homes are no longer worth what they were purchased for originally. It is like putting good money after bad and many clients want to move from a home they owe tremendously more on than what it is worth. Right now, there are no homes in the college/cultural area listed over $179,500.

The home on Woodside is a beautiful home and is priced correctly for this market. Below are some additional homes in that neighborhood and what they are selling for as well as other properties in the City of Flint with similar sq. ft.:

I know it is sad, but this is how the market here is driven. We originally listed this home at $149,900 and progressively lowered the price throughout the months it was listed to get an offer. Many clients are moving away from the City of Flint as the prices of homes in the suburbs have declined as well and are just as affordable as the urban listings. The City of Flint school district does not have a good reputation and I find few clients with children moving to the City who are sending their children to city schools and this plays a major factor as well.

I could ramble on all day about real estate in Genesee County, but I won't. Like everything else in a market driven economy, price decline and incline are cyclical and this is typical. Right now, I do not believe we have hit the price bottom for real estate and experts are saying (and I agree) that it will take the next decade for home values to start rising again. Apart from all of the doom and gloom, homes are selling and now is an excellent time to buy. If one needs to sell their home, it can be done now as well, but it takes some creativity on the part of the seller and Realtor. I do believe the foreclosures will start to dry up in the next few years and the market will be less saturated with them and real estate in general will improve. Working in one of the toughest real estate markets in the county, I can definitely attest to this!

Here's the rest of the original post:

If four houses in Beecher for $4,000 isn't your style, how about 3,000 sq. ft. of Tudor splendor off East Court Street listed at $74,000, which is about three years rent for the average San Francisco couple. According to Zillow.com, it sold in 2001 for $225,000.

Thanks to Betsy for pointing this house out.

UPDATE: Mark J. Perry at the Carpe Diem blog estimates what a typical mortgage payment would be for this house on Woodside Drive: $326.44/month.


  1. Oh - I love this house. Have been cyber-stalking it for months!!! If only I had a reason to move...

  2. So how long has this been on the market? The price seems low, even for Flint. Is the foundation messed up or something?

  3. Doug, this place looks like your old digs. Same neighborhood.....

  4. The price is about right for that neighborhood, it has been declining rapidly for the past 3 years.

  5. So what would that house go for in a good San Francisco neighborhood, with the same amount of property?

  6. It's hard to track down a place with a yard like that in SF, but here's a fairly comparable place in the city — a lot nicer interior but one fewer bath — in the North Beach neighborhood for $3.6 million. I'd imagine the Flint house is the same location would be about the same price.

    Sorry for the long URL, but it's worth a look:


  7. The 2009 StreetView images include a dog behind the driveway gate, but the interior photos... particularly the kitchen, but the bedrooms as well... look "dressed", as if the house was unoccupied and empty and a decorator was hired to bring in furniture and furnishings for photo purposes.

    Having table service for 16 stacked on the kitchen counters but nothing in the glass front cabinets is strange.

    Empty houses often have soft pricing, especially if the neighborhood has an excess of houses for sale. StreetView seems to show a For Sale sign on the much-more-ordinary frame house across the street, but no others in the block... at least when Google drove through. But, empty nice houses often don't get signs because it makes them targets for break-ins.

    My wild guess would be that this particular house might be susceptible to an aggressive offer. Architecturally it's a really nice block.

  8. Prices like this just kill me. Especially when I see the workmanship that went into this house. The neighborhood is "hanging" on... but there are some questionable properties there... notably some "nursing home" on Beard St. that has had complaints of abuse by the neighbors (a tenant walked down court to the police dept to report the abuse), and they still haven't been shut down. I love that neighborhood and I just wish it could hang on a bit longer...

  9. That house was built by Preston Champion. He was Albert Champions 1st cousin. The tile is gorgeous. The lot is small though.. and the ceilings in the basement are low. Besides that, it is a gem. I nearly bought it in about 2004.. at the time the asking was $179K. Thank god I did'nt.

  10. I grew up on Maxine, 1/2 block south of E. Court. I'm really trying to remember who lived there in the late sixties... can't. I've been to Flint recently. The city has assumed the nature of a 'small town'. Crime had actually diminished. Reason for the low price: police and fire services have almost vanished. A friend tells me a house caught fire in the old east side neighborhood (near Central High), and it took the fire department close to half an hour to get there. It burned up.
    But anyone willing to ride out the restructuring of Flint (shrinking it down so services can be scaled for a much smaller city), this house will prove to be a bargain, along with many others in that neighborhood. It's across from a park, it's within walking distance of the old U of M campus. It won't go too much lower than this price.

  11. The house has been for sale for a while - I don't recall when I first noticed it, but it has probably been more than 6-8 months. I have a soft-spot for this "vintage" of Flint home, - something that doesn't really exist to the same extend in Grand Rapids. Therefore, I tend to watch a few at a time.

    My mother lives a few blocks away, on Court Street - and is quite happy with her neighborhood. This house, being blocks closer to the "estate" style homes, in my opinion, doesn't put it in a "declining" neighborhood - at in terms of removing the argument of "declining services" in Flint as a whole. However, that being said, my father lives in a MUCH more depressed neighborhood - and when his garage had a fire, the department was there within minutes. Blanket statements about the services are precarious things to say.

    We discovered, while buying our 1970's ranch, which was empty at the time, there is a whole different set of issues when buying an unoccupied house, especially with respect to inspections, etc - chances are - this house has not sold for many of those same reasons, as well as - why buy this one, with a small lot, if you can get something comparable with much more? There are so many gems to be found in Flint!

  12. Seeing this, the photos and the comments, makes me feel sick. I live just a couple of blocks from this house and my husband and I also considered buying it at $225,000 seven years ago when we bought our current place. I too love this neighborhood...I didn't grow up in Flint but now I'm in the place with both feet, and it just makes me feel light-headed and depressed to think that all these years in a place might simply lead to nothing. Or that people think it's going down. I've felt lately that perhaps there are signs of hope, but for some reason, seeing the price on this lovely place just makes me feel shaky and sad.

  13. Regarding the Woodside house having reached its bottom...per Zillow, recent transactions in the neighborhood to the west and south have been as low as $9900, and the neighborhood to the east and south mostly in the $30Ks.

    Often, low cost housing is correlated with social ills. It can be rough living in an area of fancy houses that's readily reachable at night by folks that have a drug habit to support.

    What's the far end of the time window on Zillow for showing "recent sales"? The Woodside-Woodlawn area has a tremendous number of "recent sales" and listed houses compared to most neighborhoods in the burbs. Have all those sales been within a year?

    How about the near end of the time window--how soon do they include data for sales after closing? I looked at another location where a known closing date was about two months ago, and they don't have it...yet, anyway.

  14. I've noticed a couple times on San Francisco sales that Zillow can take several months to post recent sales. And the Flint property tax website used to post recent sale info on numerous properties, but the don't seem to carry that info anymore.

  15. Macy, I understand the feeling. It's hard to see a house that beautiful in that neighborhood sitting on the market at that price.

  16. I am pretty sure that's the house Peyton Manley lived in while attending Whitter and Central from 80-87. Cool house. Is it located on Maxine St.?

  17. I too live in the College/Cultural neighborhood. I will say that yes, many homes are going for bargain basement prices right now, but not due to crime or declining city services. Many of the foreclosed homes had families in them that lost jobs in the area and had to re-locate out of state for work. Many, if not all tried to sell, and some gave up and let the homes go to foreclosure. I have met three young couples who got into homes on my street, Kensington, for under $50,000. They are employed, enjoy living in their hometown and are trhilled to have been able to start their families in a great neighborhood. Current homeowners may never again see the high prices some of us paid to get into this high-demand area, but I'm hopeful our investment will pay off in the wonderful neighbors we have and the atmosphere we all create together.

  18. The houses are spectacular, but the area is hardly "in demand" at all...

  19. Let me tell you about this house. It was built by PROSPER Champion, the brother Albert Champion (father of both AC SPark Plug and Champion Spark Plug). Prosper Adored his brother Albert. Albert dies at the peak of his game in Paris under mysterious circumstances. Something about a love triangle. Prosper did get revenge for his brothers death. Prosper and Albert both are French. I am now I Flint expatriot living in the small country of Luxembourg. They have a memorial here to Albert for a race he won here. Albert Champion duked it out with Louis Chevrolet. Prospers wife died on the doorsteps of the above home when whe heard her son had been killed in WWII in Italy as an aviator (for the Americans). I am sure the place is friggin haunted. Propser tried to launch his own company using the Champion name. That was a Bozo no-no. Ironiacally, his brother ALBERT tried to do the same thing, but sold the rights to the Champion name with the original Champion company on the east coast. Hence AC Spark Plug. Prosper tried to call his plugs Prosper Champion - did not fly with the law.

    1. You are correct. I am Robert Champion, son of Paul H. Champion and grandson of Prosper Champion. My mother and father lived in that house for a while after they were married.

  20. My guess would be that the northernmost home on the park side of Woodlawn might have been built for someone of significance in Flint area history. Anyone know who that might have been?

  21. Once again, Flint is not the only place this is happening. It's happening statewide, and not just in central cities.

    This kind of thing is also happening in such "growth areas" as Las Vegas. The same people whistling past the cemetery just a few years ago about how great a city built on gambling debt is somehow better than a "Rust Belt" city whose economy depended on manufacturing.

    Folks, it's no longer just Flint with these problems.

  22. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!will someone please help me find out more info. on this house ?? i beg of n e one who knows n e more historical Facts i would really really apreciate it and or advice if one were to move in u could also email me at mrsgraff@live.com
    thank you so much for any kindness


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.