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Detroit Homes Become Big Investment for Realtors

International and local real estate investors are buying up vacant and abandoned homes in the metro Detroit area in hopes to revitalize the city

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Good Neighbors?

"What got everyone up in arms in the neighborhood was they took one of our beautiful houses and took all the landscaping out," says Helen Broughton, an 18-year East English Village resident. "I understand it saves money from a business perspective, because it costs money to manicure. But if they downgrade the look of the neighborhood, who's going to move in?"

Attracting quality renters is a concern that residents share about any investor.

"Until the crash of the mortgage industry, this area was 98 percent homeowners," says Stacy Pugh, president of the Rosedale Park Improvement Association in the northwest Detroit neighborhood of nearly 1,600 houses, where Metro purchased 61 houses.

"Now we've seen a shift in that a lot of renters who couldn't afford this area before (have moved in, and) sometimes they bring the bad habits with them," Pugh says, citing grilling on the porch, violating noise ordinances, putting a basketball rim in the middle of the street, and parking that blocks the street, corner or berm.

"I can't say that these are all (Metro) properties," Pugh says. "I'm giving you some of the issues we face with new people moving into the neighborhood."

Balistreri, 27, says East English Village has experienced individual "slum lord" investors who have not maintained properties or resolved complaints.

However, Balistreri says he has received no complaints about Metro tenants. And he has assurance from the company that "if we have any issue with a tenant, it's a no-tolerance policy ... they'll evict them and find someone else."

So far, he says, "the tenants in the neighborhood have been great," and several young homeowners who've moved in have attended neighborhood meetings.

Beydoun—with a 99 percent occupancy rate and a tenant waiting list—says he's so committed to smoothly integrating renters into traditionally owner-occupied neighborhoods that Metro is developing a course teaching tenants about home maintenance, neighborhood culture and ownership.

"The American Dream of home ownership is where the residents of Detroit will prosper the most if things come to light for us," says Beydoun. "We say it all the time: Our goal is not to be landlords in the city. Helping someone become a homeowner is a big issue for us."

That's why he says his company has met with Quicken Loans' Fresh Start Program to help tenants raise credit scores and qualify for mortgages.

Meanwhile, Beydoun says his landscaping crews mow more than 900 properties across the city—about 250-300 a week; vendors are penalized for complaints or fined if problems are not remedied within 24 hours.

Balistreri says he recently called Metro to clean up a "trash pile" in front of a house, and "they took care of it within 24 hours. That is indicative of my experience with (Metro); they're very responsive and quick."

Beydoun welcomes feedback: "If everything that you heard was 100 percent positive, then it would sound staged."

Metro donated $500 to each neighborhood association, he says. "At first they said, 'What do you want for this?' We said, 'It's like the olive branch to extend our good faith to show you that … we're going to be good community partners.'"

Some Improvements

Broughton says she was impressed when the association requested a meeting with Metro and the company met with the board and members—and agreed to fund the area's "voluntary paid security patrol."

Residents are relieved that more investors mean fewer squatters.

"My block is one of the longer blocks with 55 or 56 addresses, and some are two-family flats," says Latisha Davis, 37, an East English Village block captain. "Last summer, I think my block had … 12 vacant properties. Of those, five houses had squatters. This summer, I think I may have one."

Balistreri says the problem has improved significantly. "When I first moved in, there were two or three squatters. I can say for certain that there are no squatters on my block now."

Istamboulian adds: "There's a lot of criminal activity with abandoned homes. Sometimes you risk your life because of the lawlessness. You really have to be careful. I've walked into homes with squatters, and run into people taking drugs in the home."

Vandalism is another problem. "You can't leave a finished home unoccupied," he says. "When my guys finish a home, overnight vandals come in and break the windows; steal the furnace, water heater and air conditioner. We have to pay people to stay at the homes until a tenant moves in."

Still, Istamboulian says, "The pace is actually picking up right now," especially along the Grosse Pointe and Southfield borders. "Slowly, the neighborhoods are changing."

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Jul 5, 2013 12:11 pm
 Posted by  Mind The Gap

SAMEER BEYDOUN OF METRO PROPERTY IS BEING SUED FOR FRAUD AND RACKETEERING. SEE PART OF ARTICLE TAKEN FROM COURTHOUSE NEWS BELOW. SURELY THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE IN B.L.A.C.SHOULD HAVE DONE A BIT OF RESEARCH BEFORE PROMOTING THIS PERSON AND HIS COMPANY.

THE COMPLAINT ALLEGES THAT METRO SELL EMPTY AND UNREFURBISHED HOMES TO UNWITTING FOREIGN INVESTORS. THEY THEN PAY THE INVESTOR THEIR OWN INVESTMENT MONEY BACK FOR A FEW MONTHS - PRETENDING IT IS RENT FROM A TENANT - AND THEN TELL THE INVESTOR THE TENANT HAS GONE AND THE PAYMENTS STOP. THE INVESTOR GEST DUMPED WITH A MONEY PIT THAT NEEDS MASSIVE REPAIRS AND THAT IS DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO RENT.

LEASES ALLEGEDLY FORGED BY SAMEER BEYDOUN, IN ORDER TO CON INVESTORS, HAVE BEEN EXHIBITED IN THE CASE. THIS ARTICLE DOESN'T MENTION ANY OF THIS.

VERY POOR AND MISLEADING JOURNALISM IN MY OPINION.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Giant Home Scam Alleged in Detroit
By JACK BOUBOUSHIAN

DETROIT (CN) -
The complaint states: "Defendants Sameer Beydoun, Ali Beydoun, David Makki, and Mike Alaweih, doing business as defendants, Metro Property Group, Apex Global Properties LLC, and Global Power Equities LLC, purchase extremely rundown, rarely tenanted, usually uninhabitable properties out of foreclosure from the City of Detroit, and they are, upon information and belief, the single largest purchaser of such foreclosed Detroit homes. Upon information and belief, Ponzi scheme defendants have purchased thousands of such homes for between $500.00 and $5,000.00 and/or similar small amounts. (Ponzi scheme defendants purchase a scant few homes for larger amounts.) They make a profit by duping and defrauding investors, including plaintiffs, into buying them for $40,000.00 to $50,000.00 and/or similar amounts.

Jul 6, 2013 05:24 am
 Posted by  Ned Smith

Metro Property are being sued for Fraud and It is the exposure of scams like this- allegedly masterminded by the Beydoun in this article - that will ultimately bang the final nail into the coffin of Detroit's precarious finances.

Beydoun claims to renovate 100 houses a month . How preposterous a statement is that and who actually believes it?

Beydoun also claims to have a waiting list of tenants. In fact Metro have hundreds of empty properties on their books for rent, look at their website - and that only shows a fraction of the empty and boarded up houses that are out there. The better ones, not the absolute tat that was sold to investors in previous years.

It is a very old trick. Persuade an investor to part with a large amount of their money (in this case for a run down property worth a few thousand dollars) . Then pay them a hefty monthly return for a few months out of their own cash, just for long enough to get them to buy some more run down properties Then announce that the payments are going to stop because the fake tenant has vanished.

Are any of the other developers named in this article affiliated with Beydoun ? If not do they know that by appearing in the same article they are likely to be associated with the alleged scam? Those who are genuinely trying to do a good job for Detroit and its citizens should avoid any association with those who are being dishonest and subject to lawsuits.

Jul 6, 2013 09:31 pm
 Posted by  Bogart747

Amen, keep the truth out there. To many carpet baggers our city really needs a chance and I can see the beginning from here.

Jul 6, 2013 10:59 pm
 Posted by  Mad Off

I cannot understand an article appearing like this without any form of research. It is very easy to see what is happening in these times and these guys are out for personal gain only. Saviours of Detroit, give me a break! If you are really interested in the truth follow this link. www.courthousenews.com/2013/05/07/57371.htm‎
Please do not get sucked into this, there is absolutely no benefit to investors or the City.

Jul 7, 2013 04:26 am
 Posted by  Turners47

I believe the journalist who wrote this piece of rubbish has been taken for a fool by Beydoun. She should have asked the tenants who live in the crumbling wrecks owned/managed by Metro what the miserable reality is like. Quite rightly Beydoun is being sued as a con artist. This journalist should have taken this into account before she printed the absolute bs that Beydoun is spouting here. The whole article is a disgrace.

Jul 7, 2013 07:47 am
 Posted by  Defrauded Investor

I find it unbelievable that not only is Beydoun from Metro Property Group still pretending to be an honest Businessman, and has the gaul to claim hes helping Detroit but that he is still able to find Journalists gullable enough to believe him. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. There are literally hundreds of investors liek me who were foolish enough to do so and have yet to make anything but losses on the properties he flipped and sold us. The small group of brave individuals who have sued him so far, myself included have uncovered at least 13 counts of proven illegal behavior and the number of lawsuits against him and His Metro Team are mounting daily such that I doubt he will be in business much longer and will have to flee the country back to his Hezbollah friends in Lebanon if he doesn't want to be arrested and thrown in jail! Shame on the journalist who printed his propoganda ! Come on Journalists - do your job !

Jul 7, 2013 08:41 am
 Posted by  scamwatcher

One of the Baydouns from Metro Property that is being sued has persuaded his wife to contact Dearborn residents, on his behalf, basically begging for funds to support him in this legal action. How tacky is that, and what kind of a man asks his wife to do his dirty work for him in such a humiliating way? Well I think we all know the answer to that one. So not only are Dearborn residents supposed to turn a blind eye to his illegal activities, which will probably be the absolute ruin of the Detroit housing market when all is revealed at trial, but he wants them to help pay to try and get him off!!

What on earth was Elizabeth Atkins thinking when she wrote this piece of garbage.

Jul 7, 2013 11:26 am
 Posted by  Also Defrauded

I have lost my live savings to these scammers. I was told lies about the condition of the houses (they were near derelict when I purchased them and I can prove it) and I was told there were tenants in them when there were no tenants in them at all (I can prove that as well). A year down the line all the "rent" money stopped and I have not earned a dollar in over a year. Instead I have been presented with massive bills for things like furnaces and roofs and plumbing. Now, the taxes are due on them again and I don't know where to turn. It is outrageous to see articles like this promoting, Beydoun who in my opinion should be behind bars along with the rest of them. Carpetbagger is a good word although Scumbag is how I feel about him. How did he keep a straight face when he was telling this writer that all the homes get a new furnace and AC unit and doors etc ect. He took you for a ride lady just like the rest of us.

Jul 7, 2013 04:38 pm
 Posted by  catcher

Why are these people still in business, do we need a separate government department created to catch people like them and put them where they belong. Affecting peoples lives by destroying their savings and investments should carry one penalty, and we all know what that should be.

Jul 8, 2013 06:06 am
 Posted by  Also Defrauded

Metro Property have hired someone to get them publicity and false credibility. See below taken from Courthouse News. So that is probably how this article in B.L.A.C. came into being. I posted on Canadian Real Estate Wealth magazine forum and so did some other victims of this scam. Canada seems to be the latest stop for Metro. All the posts were removed - from a forum which is supposed to be an open platform for other people to share their experiences. Next thing Beydoun is pictured on the front cover of the magazine with the headline Beydoun Talks Bull**** on Detroit (check it out it is on Metro's website). In my opinion it is just a glossy advertorial which Beydoun probably funded himself and I doubt it was cheap. Beydoun freely admits in the B.L.A.C. article that it only cost him $500 to gain the trust of the Neighborhood Associations. How despicable is that? So that is probably the answer to everyone who wants to know how on earth garbage like this keeps appearing about Metro and in particular Beydoun.

TAKEN FROM COURTHOUSE NEWS
"In support of this scheme, Ponzi Scheme Defendants hired former Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reporter, Darci McConnell and her McConnell Communications, to market Ponzi scheme defendants, specifically defendant Sameer Beydoun, as the 'savior' of Detroit in gushing, glowing feature articles in the Detroit Free Press, Bloomberg News, and other local, national, and international publications of note, furthering the Ponzi scheme and providing Ponzi scheme defendants with convincing mainstream media approval and cover for the Ponzi scheme fraud.

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