Property speculation creates chaos in Detroit housing market

Detroit, Mich. (AP) - A newspaper investigation has found that property speculation is causing dysfunction in Detroit's housing market and leading to blight and instability in neighborhoods.

University of Michigan-Dearborn Assistant Professor Joshua Akers documents Detroit property speculation on his website Property Praxis. Akers tells the Detroit Free Press that the annual Wayne County tax foreclosure auction "is one of the greatest destabilizing forces" in the city.

Nearly 144,000 properties landed in the tax auction between 2002 and 2016. Akers says speculative investors accounted for 90 percent of all auction purchases between 2005 and 2015. Speculative investors engage in steady and continuous swapping of capital and titles.

Akers says the practice leads to vacant properties or predatory rent-to-own land contracts in which the prospective buyer has a high likelihood of eventual eviction.