Things Are Looking Up in Detroit

Believe it or not, the Motor City is one of the only two markets where prices rose

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Detroit is better known as a vestige of a more prosperous America and the city worst damaged by the recession than city in recovery. However, new data released on Tuesday shows that housing prices in Metro Detroit are actually on the rise. "Metro Detroit home prices posted a 1.2% annual gain through July with strong summer demand, according to S&P/Case-Shiller data released today," reports the Detroit Free Press. "Detroit is one of just two metro areas that showed price appreciation in the July report. The other was Washington, D.C., with a 0.3% rise."

The upward trend in Detroit adds clout to a report on Monday that cities in the Rust Belt are performing better in these dour economic times. However, the signs of improvement in the Motor City are far from a full recovery. The Free Press also points out that housing prices are still "nearly 28% below their 2000 level, according to the index." In the same time period, Detroit has also lost 237,000 residents, a quarter of its population. Stacked next to a recent report on Detroit in The Awl, the positive movement in the housing market comes on the heels of an aggressive effort to simply tear down the houses they left behind:

Mayor Dave Bing announced his plan to take down 3,000 abandoned structures in one year a little more than a year ago, and he came close to meeting his goal. He plans to take down 10,000 blighted buildings by the end of his term. The mayor's website has three links under the heading "Initiatives": a job-creation project called Detroit Works, a volunteer project called Believe in Detroit--and then there is the Residential Demolition Program. This is absolutely central to the city's plans for long-term stability, and they may very well be right--no one knows yet whether "rightsizing" really works.

So far things are looking up. Even real estate blog network has set up a Detroit outpost. But as local real estate appraiser Lou Broun told the Free Press, "This could go kaboom all of a sudden."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.