Special to The Oakland Press
Whoever said there isn’t money to be made in Detroit never met Andrew Kuhn.
Four years ago, the University of Findlay graduate left Ohio and a spot in medical school to come to Detroit. The reason: real estate.
At a time when people are leaving the city, Kuhn, 26, is confident in the investment opportunities for those buying Detroit’s residential properties.
“You can get a home in Detroit for a dollar. It has now become the choice of, ‘Do I want a double cheeseburger or a house?’ ” he said.
Sensing a chance to get outside investors involved in buying city property, Kuhn and his partner, real estate broker Anthony Sevy, 25, started a Web site, HelpBuildDetroit.com.
Sevy said the site, specifically geared toward educating investors unfamiliar with Detroit’s housing market, has had 30,000 hits since going up 60 days ago.
Potential clients are asked to come to the city and see firsthand what kind of properties they are getting.
“It’s interesting that people are flying in just to see us and the opportunities here when so many others are trying to get away,” said Sevy, a West Bloomfield native.
The business, based in Royal Oak, attracts patrons from all over the world. The two have had calls from investors in Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Italy, Australia, the Philippines and other countries, all interested in buying up Detroit.
The process works like this: Kuhn and Sevy find properties around metro Detroit in which they think investors would be interested.
The investors buy the properties, paying them a commission. Then, Kuhn and Sevy help the investors find contractors to repair the buildings. After the properties are fixed up, they can be rented to people who would not normally be able to afford a home.
There is money to be made because even though buying a house might cost $20,000 and an extra $20,000 for renovations, the house maintains its appraisal value. This means a house that cost an investor $40,000 could actually be worth $100,000, according to the city.
Rental properties are particularly exciting for Kuhn and Sevy because the cost of buying apartment buildings is low and the rental market in Detroit is still strong.
“As the economy shrinks, people lose their jobs, people downsize their houses and they rent longer,” said Kuhn.
A 110-unit apartment complex is just a typical day’s acquisition for the two men. They deal with $30 million hedge fund executives and the average person who wants to buy a single-family home and fix it up to live in or to sell it.
According to them, anyone can get involved.
“Truthfully, not one person who comes to Detroit decides they don’t want to buy,” Sevy said.
But Sevy and Kuhn, both Royal Oak residents, see their business as more than just “flipping” houses for profit. Kuhn cites a sense of responsibility to Detroit and the surrounding cities that have become his home.
“Someone needs to invest in Detroit and the locals won’t do it,” he said.
“Without younger people here, people wanting to live here and work here and bring their families here, it doesn’t do the area any good.
“People just have to start taking responsibility for the city of Detroit.”