Why Detroit? An Answer in Three Parts

A month or two ago, someone came by the Rebirth Realty house to chat about that project and the community we’re building here. Of course, since the projects are so intimately intertwined, we ended up discussing Castle as well.

Max handled most of the questions, pitching the idea and elaborating in all the right spots. Eventually, the question came: why start Castle in Detroit? I jumped in right away with my answer.

One: Detroit = Real Estate

As I wrote about in an earlier blog post, Detroit is synonymous with real estate—in my mind anyway. The negative side of the association is, of course, blight; we practically define the term “ruin porn.” The positive side, however, is the massive opportunity for redevelopment. The secret’s out by now of course; previously abandoned buildings are coming back to life all over the city((I won’t pretend the revitalization is evenly distributed, but there are rehab projects in even some of the farther-flung neighborhoods. Credit goes to the many community development corporations there.)).

Two: Property Management Here Is Terrible

The bar here in Detroit is low. Very low. Ask any rental property owner in town to recommend a property management company, and they won’t be able to honestly provide you with a single name. The market is here, but it’s radically underserved. The larger area of Southeast Michigan has some great options, but firms who operate in the suburbs generally hesitate to head into the city. We’ve heard it over and over again: a property management company in Detroit that’s actually good can make a killing. We’re not really in it for the money((So Millennial, I know.)), but we do have to make payroll every other week.

Three: Our Roots Are Growing Deep

As it turns out, living in a place for more than two years earns you a certain familiarity with it. We started with the VFA network of Fellows and supporters, but now we have our own networks too. Of particular importance are the connections in the investor and real estate communities, both of which operate on personal relationships. Why would we uproot ourselves now, just when we’re starting to see returns on our network-building efforts?

In short, we’re in the right place, in the right market, with the right connections. Combine the old real estate saw of “Location, location, location” with the startup mantra of “Team, market, product,” and you can see why we’re pleased to call Detroit home.

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