A homeless Detroit man bought an abandoned house for $1,500 and spent 10 years renovating it for his wife. Here’s how he did it — and what it looks like now.

  • In 2009, Michael Gray, a native Detroiter, bought an abandoned home from his nephew for just $1,500. He moved in as soon as he bought it. 
  • Before purchasing the home, Gray told Business Insider that he was homeless and living in his niece’s basement.
  • In 2010, he began a nearly 10-year renovation process and transformed the home room by room.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Gray explained how he turned the home into a livable space for both him and his wife.
  • His home is now in a housing market that is booming, according to local reports.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Michael Gray is a native Detroiter.

At 67 years old, he spends his weekdays working as a machinist in Bowling Green, Ohio, and his weekends at his home in Detroit with his wife, Cynthia. 

The story of their four-bedroom home dates back to November 2009, when Gray bought it from his nephew for just $1,500.

Before purchasing the home, Gray was living in his niece’s basement. He told Business Insider he was homeless and that despite having a college degree, he was unable to find work in Detroit.

Gray told Business Insider that after getting hit by a car in 2008, he used some of the settlement money to buy the property. He moved in the day he bought it with nothing but an air mattress to sleep on. At the time, the home was in bad shape. According to Gray, it was infested with mites, spiders, and mice — not even the toilet worked. 

Now, nearly a decade later, Gray is still living there during the coronavirus pandemic and the home is unrecognizable. The market it sits in is booming during the COVID era, too. According to WXYZ Detroit, real estate listings in the city are currently seeing multiple offers and home showings in the area are up.

Keep reading for a look at Gray’s home transformation below. He compiled photos in two hard-copy albums, which he mailed to Business Insider. In a phone interview, he explained the work that went into renovating the home.

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