6 Things to Look For When Searching for Homes in Downtown Detroit

Austin Black


Detroit is a city full of culture, intrigue, and excitement. Anyone who lives in Detroit will tell you honestly that it's a special place to live. But with so much to offer, it can sometimes be overwhelming to zero in on what matters most. We've gathered six key things you should look for if you’re looking to find Downtown Detroit houses for sale.

Things to know about Detroit


Successfully finding homes for sale in Downtown Detroit starts by learning a bit about the area. Detroit is situated 280 miles east of Chicago, just below the “thumb” of Michigan. That puts it directly over the Detroit River which links Lake St. Clair with Lake Erie. Detroit still ranks as Michigan's largest city by its size and population.

As you search for houses for sale in Downtown Detroit, here are some things to know about the city before settling on your dream home:

Expect a big community feel

While no big city has the same tight-knit community feel that a small town boasts, Detroit does not cut corners regarding the community. The people of Detroit like to stay active in their community and participate in each other's lives. If you’re looking to disappear, you may not find that notion comes easily here. There are always things to do and people to meet.

It’s normal for people living in the area to get to know their neighbors, smile at passing pedestrians, and take the initiative to improve their neighborhoods. A large part of this unity stems from Detroit's past and the historically low level of outside support. As a result, it became necessary for residents to take the initiative to improve the neighborhoods and get things done.

Expect a lot of winter weather

You can expect the average winter temperature to range between 20 to 35 degrees, with occasional falls below zero and a regular wind chill that makes everything feel quite a bit chillier.

The big complaint with Detroit winters is that they can last for months. Sometimes they last as long as five months. It’s normal for winter to begin in Detroit in late November and continue through April. The reward for perseverance is gorgeous spring and summer days with temperatures in the mid-60s to mid-80s, which are perfect for vacationing at the state’s Great Lakes.

You have the opportunity to go island-hopping

Although the idea of living on an island may not immediately come to mind when considering Detroit and the northern state of Michigan, this concrete jungle has surprisingly easy access to several adjacent river islands. They aren’t the tropical paradises you’re used to on luxurious vacations, but they can undoubtedly provide entertainment and beautiful views.


The largest island park in the United States — Belle Isle — is at the top of the list for Detroit's island-hopping fun. Other noteworthy island excursions include:

  • Paddling through the Humbug Island marshes.
  • Touring the Gibraltar Bay Alpaca Farm in Grosse Ile Township.
  • Observing the bird migrations on-the-spot at Harsens Island.

There is a great deal of history

Before finding homes for sale in Downtown Detroit that you want to purchase, it may help to familiarize yourself with the city’s past.

Beginning with its ascent as a thriving city filled with numerous booming industries — such as publishing and automobiles — then continuing through the tumult of the civil rights movement, and ending with its current "renaissance," this city has experienced a lot. Nevertheless, Detroit wears its heart and history on its sleeve, which contributes to the strength and passion of the local community.

What to look  for when searching for homes for sale in downtown Detroit

1. Consider the home at neighborhood-level


Determine the areas where you want to live as well as the ones you don’t. If you're new to the region, take a few drives around the city to get a sense of where you want to spend your time, your commute, and who your neighbors will be. It's crucial to decide if you wish to live close enough to coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques or if you value a spacious backyard in a quieter neighborhood more.

No real estate agent can make this decision for you. First, you must visit the neighborhood to get a feel for it. Remember that one person’s idea of a charming neighborhood may be your definition of outdated. Having open discussions with your realtor will help them refine what areas to look for homes for you in.

2. Check the home inspection


Many lenders will refuse to offer financing for a home without an inspection, so if you’re looking for houses for sale in Downtown Detroit, check the home inspection before agreeing to spend any money. Home inspections can save you from costly — even life-threatening — issues with a home, such as mold, bad wiring, and a decaying foundation.

As you look for homes in Downtown Detroit, feel free to include a clause about home inspections in any offer you make. This will often give you time to walk away from purchasing a home should anything severe come up on the home inspection.

In a real estate market that favors the seller — meaning there is more demand for homes than homes for sale — it can be tempting for a buyer to waive the home inspection, especially if you plan to purchase the home in all cash. However, be very cautious about doing this because you might buy a home with far more issues than you’re prepared to handle.

3. Competition on bids is normal


When buying a home, losing out on offers is normal. It happens so often that you can prepare yourself to lose your initial offer on a home or automatically receive a counteroffer unless your first offer is extremely competitive. If you expect competition or to lose out on a bid, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you don’t.

4. Pay attention to the comps


Comparing one home for sale with similar sales in the neighborhood can help determine if a list price is fair. Get comfortable looking at the comps of different homes so you can see if the home you want is priced correctly. You can also work with a real estate agent who’s well versed in the local market and can help you determine a fair price with the comps.

5. Be wary of project homes

It can be tempting to take on a project home, especially in Detroit when there is a lot of fixer-upper potential. As you look through listings, be wary of taking on a big project — especially if you haven’t tackled a remodel before. If you purchase a home in downtown Detroit to be your permanent residence, you don’t want to have a constant construction project underway while you live there.

6. Look for positive feedback from your Realtor 

When looking for homes for sale in Downtown Detroit, it helps to run your potential listings by your Realtor to ensure it’s a good investment, that it will suit your preferences, and that it’s a good home. You should be able to trust your Realtor’s opinion on both the house and the location.

Our team at City Living Detroit will never recommend a home to one of our clients that we don’t fully believe in and think fits their needs and goals. If you are looking for homes for sale in Downtown Detroit, reach out to choose City Living Detroit today!



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Austin's worldly perspective on urban redevelopment, drive to stay on top of the latest industry trends, and passion for his hometown has earned him the respect and adoration of a city and its leadership.

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