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How To Sell An Abandoned House in Detroit

Do you have an abandoned house in the Detroit area and are considering selling it? Sadly a lot has changed in Detroit, leaving a large number of abandoned lots and empty homes. Nearly half of the total residential properties are vacant in large portions of the city. 

If your abandoned house is still sitting vacant and not being monitored, it may be the right time to move on. So if you’re still holding on to an abandoned house in Detroit and trying to figure out what to do, selling it would be a good option. To better understand the process and how to sell an abandoned house in Detroit, our guide walks you through the steps of selling an abandoned home. 

an abandoned house in Detroit Michigan

Why Sell An Abandoned House In Detroit?

Reasons To Sell An Abandoned House

Real dangers and risks come with maintaining or owning an abandoned house. Some of those dangers and risks to consider with your vacant home include:

  • Crime magnets 
  • Health and safety
  • Squatters 
  • Property Deterioration 
  • On-going costs

Crime Magnets

An abandoned house is, unfortunately, a magnet for potential crime. Empty houses and vacant lots have become police problems because they attract crime and disorder. They are appealing because abandoned buildings provide cover, concealment, and opportunities for motivated criminals. Moreover, since no one is present to guard it or regulate behavior, crime and disorderly conduct may escalate.

In Detroit, crime in abandoned buildings is very common. Once measures were taken to demolish vacant structures, an 11% drop in serious injuries caused by firearms was noted by a University of Michigan and Harvard University study

If your home has been sitting vacant and you have plans to sell, make sure to take steps to keep the house maintained. Try to avoid an image of an unoccupied house like boarded windows and doors, trash and junk in the yard, graffiti, and tall grass. Hopefully, discouraging criminal activity. 

Any crime taking place in your empty property is concerning, but two common crimes that could easily happen would include:

  1. Arson and Accidental Fire
  2. Burglary and Theft
Arson and Accidental Fire

Fires may be set deliberately or accidentally by squatters, drug users, homeless who are cooking or keeping warm or unsupervised children playing in the building. Several things in and around the house can be fuel to starting fires, including abandoned vehicles or accumulated trash usually ignited by overgrown landscaping. 

Burglary and Theft 

Don’t fall victim to “house stripping,” “scavenging,” or urban mining,” where offenders steal and then sell building components. Scrap metal can be sold to second-hand dealers who ask few questions during the transaction. A standard method to sell raw wire for scrap is to burn away the outer coating. Openly burning releases airborne pollutants and poses a threat to the property, air quality, and public health. When the doors and windows of a home are stolen, it is further exposed to the change in weather and can deteriorate quicker, which devalues the property. 

Health and Safety

Your abandoned house can be a health hazard, depending on the age of your home. Older homes are known to have lead paint and asbestos. Also, keep in mind, you may have issues with the quality of indoor air and water as well as other chemicals and pests lurking around the house. Your health can be threatened by feces, illegal dumping, asbestos, lead particles, hazardous waste discharge, and airborne mold.

Besides how your health is affected, your neighbors may be affected too, and in ways, you may not even think of. Public health is affected by many factors, including neighborhood safety and the conditions of where people live. Abandoned properties contribute to several health problems such as mental health, higher rates of chronic illness, and homicide. In the Detroit area, many residences are fearful of neighboring abandoned homes. Mainly because of their attraction to criminal activity.

Besides influencing health, structural safety is also a health and safety concern. As your home ages and is left to the elements, the building may become unstable. Flooring, stairways, and walls may start to collapse, becoming a safety concern for anyone in or around the home. 


A squatter is a person that settles on a property without any legal claim. Once a squatter establishes themself on your property and starts taking care of it, they can secure the rights to occupy the abandoned home legally. In Detroit, if a squatter has occupied your property for 15 years, they can claim adverse possession. And if they start paying property taxes, they can claim adverse possession in as little as 10 years. As the owner of the property, you could end up losing the property altogether.

Property Deterioration

Without proper maintenance, houses can suffer, causing decline on a week to week basis. In the case of abandoned houses, this can be even more true as no one monitors the property. If you keep delaying a sale without addressing the vacancy issue, you stand to lose money in the long run.

On-going Costs 

Holding on to any property is expensive. On-going utilities, if left on, will continue costing you. As well as government taxes. Furthermore, with abandoned homes, there is a high possibility of city violations issued due to its unsafe structure, tall grass, and illegal use, among many other issues. Over time, these fines and taxes grow and grow if not paid. Keeping an abandoned house will continue to drive up your monthly bills, and ultimately if the taxes and violations go unpaid, the government will repossess the property altogether.

male hands hammer sign for sale

How to Sell An Abandoned House

To avoid the danger and risk of keeping an empty property selling quickly would be your best option. But how do you go about selling an abandoned home? Here are some easy steps to help

Step 1: Determine the condition of your home

Start by doing some investigation. If you can safely look around the property, access what type of condition the house is in. Getting a better idea of what would need to be done to the home will help you with Step 2- Setting the asking price. To assist you in the process, you can always hire a professional home inspector.

Step 2: Set the asking price 

Figuring out the asking price may be the most important step when selling your abandoned house. A real estate specialist may be able to provide you with guidance on appropriate pricing. A real estate specialist can include an investor, appraiser, or a real estate agent. 

Tip: When setting the asking price, you will want to be realistic and remember that abandoned houses come with a host of problems, getting rid of possible squatters and making essential repairs, so don’t expect top dollar.

Step 3: Decide how you want to sell

If you were to sell with a real estate agent, more than likely, you would have to do repairs to the home to attract buyers. And besides the expense of repairs, you will also owe 6% in realtor commissions and fees.

Selling by owner is another way to sell your abandoned home. However, you may think it is easier and cheaper but will still need to make necessary repairs and be responsible for listing, marketing, showing, and negotiating with potential buyers. Not to mention if the buyer uses an agent, you will still have to pay a 3% commission.

Another option is selling to a real estate investor. Selling an old abandoned house to a real estate investor has several advantages.

Firstly, it is a fast transaction since they offer cash. Secondly, they usually purchase the property as-is. And thirdly, since you would sell directly to them, you wouldn’t incur any realtor commissions. By selling directly to a real estate investor, you will save time and money. 

Tower Homebuyers is a professional cash buyer in the Detroit area. If you are considering selling your abandoned property, give them a call at (810) 893-5077. 

Our process is super easy! Besides buying vacant property, we also purchase homes in a variety of situations. To get more information and learn how we can help you, visit our website or contact us today. Our team is ready to help you!

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