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Thursday, July 19, 2007
Recently, I stumbled onto the world's cheapest real estate... I call it the Real Estate Utopia.
I found suburban land on sale for $1,500 a quarter acre. That's big enough for a three-bedroom house with garage. Each lot came with sewer and water hook-ups. It cost the city $2,000 just to install them.
Or maybe you'd like your own beautiful art-deco skyscraper in the financial district... for $3.9 million. That's less than the cost of its bricks. I stood in its lobby and chatted with the doorman. It is 37 stories tall. The first three floors were constructed in pure marble and granite. The brass-gilded elevator doors were the most beautiful I'd ever seen. This building was perfect for conversion into condos... or you could just tear it down and sell it for scrap (I bet you'd still make a profit).
But wait. Here's my favorite: A waterfront mansion in the swankiest neighborhood. It comes with a manicured lawn, huge marble pillars, and a boat slip. It's been on the market for four years already. And get this: The nearby country club is so desperate for members, they'll let anyone moving to town try out the championship course for free. How do I know? I played it myself (though I had an invitation from a member).
This house would cost 10 times as much in New York, London, or Moscow. But in Real Estate Utopia, it's yours for only $435,000.
Can you believe how cheap this is? Imagine how these numbers look when translated in foreign currencies. I can tell you. The dollar is setting all-time lows. These numbers look like peanuts.
Six weeks ago, a company called Hudson and Marshall sold 300 properties in Utopia. A company spokesperson said more than half of these properties sold for less than $10,000.
A house for less than the price of a car? Can you imagine? You just can't lose money on this stuff.
Zimbabwe has the most screwed up economy of any country in the world right now. Inflation rates are running at 10,000% a year, and the currency is losing about 75% of its value every month. This country is on the brink of collapse... possibly even war.
I looked up an online realtor from Harare, Zimbabwe's capital city. I found half an acre of raw land in Harare on sale for $6,000. It doesn't come with utility hook-ups, and it's still twice the price of Utopia land.
A real estate newsletter I found on the web reports that, in Baghdad, a five-bedroom, river-view house sold for $300,000 in August 2006. "Despite the violence," it said, "property values have increased close to 1,000% in the past three years in some parts of [Baghdad]."
Cheaper than Harare or Baghdad? This must be the world's cheapest property.
Utopia is southeast Michigan.
Can you imagine ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips packing all their operations into a 100-mile radius? The prosperity would be extraordinary.
For most of the last century, three of the largest manufacturing companies in the world were all based within a 100-mile radius of Detroit. In the last 30 years, however, the Big Three automakers have closed dozens of plants and cut 90% of their Michigan workforce.
Since March 1998, Michigan has lost 172,000 manufacturing jobs and now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
USA Today says more than 1 million people have left Detroit since 1950, and its population now totals only 850,000. "Leases Now Available"... "For Sale By Owner"... "Free utilities"... Everywhere you look, space is available.
That's bad for Detroit. But it's good investors who like cheap real estate.
A few months ago, I covered several plays in Detroit for active real estate investors to investigate. It took me a few weeks to come up with, but I've finally found an easy-to-buy stock market investment that will make a mint from all this cheap property in southeast Michigan. And it pays a 6.5% dividend.
Here's a clue: only a handful of businesses traded on the stock market do 100% of their business with consumers in southeastern Michigan... and they're either small banks or utilities.
A DOW THEORY APPROVED BULL MARKET
More than 100 years ago, Charles Dow poured the foundation of modern technical analysis... the "art" of watching stock price trends.
One of Dow's major tenets holds that the stock market is healthy when both the manufacturers of goods and the transporters of goods are doing brisk business and enjoying rising stock prices. Dow called it a "confirmation" when both his Industrial Average and Transportation Average were reaching new highs together.
We've all seen headlines of the Dow Industrials blasting through 14,000 this week... but the papers fail to mention that Dow's "transports"... the shippers (FedEx)... the railroads (Union Pacific)... and the truckers (J.B. Hunt) also reached an all-time high on Tuesday.
It's a "confirmed" bull market, you know.