See How a Detroit Man Transformed 2 Homes He Bought for $3,300 Total


  • In June 2017, Vincent Orr won an abandoned home from the Detroit Land Bank Authority for just $2,100.
  • In 2019, he purchased a second vacant home from the DLBA for $1,200. 
  • Orr transformed both homes into livable spaces with only $100,000.

You can become a homeowner in Detroit, Michigan, for as little as $1,000 — but it’ll take a lot of work.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority, founded in 2008, set out on a mission to return run-down and vacant properties in the city to productive use. To do so, it auctions off thousands of publicly owned properties through its public platform, Auction — and the bidding starts at $1,000.

In 2017, Vincent Orr, 33, a native Detroiter, won a home for his mother through Auction for $2,100 — and that was just the beginning of his adventures in real estate.  While Orr had the highest bid, claiming full ownership of the home required some work. 

The DLBA has a compliance program requiring winning bidders to renovate the auctioned homes. After the home is renovated, a compliance officer deems the home livable or not. If it is, complete ownership is transferred to the bidder.

It took Orr nine months and $40,000 to renovate the property. However, he learned so much that he’s become a bonafide home flipper, in a priceless consequence of the project. 

In 2019, he purchased a second vacant home from the DLBA. The home, which sits next door to his mother’s, cost him only $1,200.

While Orr is currently leasing the home to a family member, he is still renovating the property. He has spent $60,000 refurbishing the home and making it habitable, and anticipated at least $5,000 more for repairs.

“COVID-19 put a little damper on the project because material prices increased,” Orr said. “I prolonged a few things like concrete work and putting up a wooden fence, but those are things that I plan on doing this summer.”

In an interview with Insider, Orr explained how he transformed both spaces with just $100,000. Keep reading for a side-by-side look at their transformations. 

Do you have a similar story you’d like to share with Insider? Get in touch with reporter Alcynna Lloyd at alloyd@insider.com.

This story, originally published in 2019, was updated in March 2023.



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