2 students invest in abandoned Detroit home to earn money for college

DETROIT – At first glance, 5137 Prescott Street in Detroit looked like any other abandoned and vandalized house in the city. But college students Chris Griffin and Andrew Fylak saw something more: they saw an opportunity.

Griffin and Fylak are studying at Oakland University and were looking for a way to earn extra money for their education. When the chance came to bid on an auction house in Detroit, they took it.

"I love Detroit. I love Dan Gilbert. I love what's going on down here. I've been fascinated by it. So, we started looking around down here, looking at some properties. And we just kind of learned as we went along," Griffin said.

When they found the Prescott Street house, it was in pretty bad shape. The asking price was $6,000.

"It was destroyed. Totally destroyed," Griffin said.

Scrappers had ripped apart the home and it needed a new furnace, water heater, roof, flooring, garage and more.

"We did not actually look at it before we bought it. We actually just got here, showed up, and went on it," Griffin said.

It cost more than $50,000 to rehabilitate the home.

Fylak had his half of the money from savings he had from a lawn service company he had started. Griffin also used his savings, but had some help from his dad, too. He worked out a deal to give his dad back a percentage of the investment profit.

"He was all on board. He loved it," Griffin said.

The duo focused hard on updating the house's kitchen and putting in a new deck and garage.

In addition to making the house look new, Griffin and Fylak noticed something else was happening. Neighbors were noticing, and taking action.

"It's a ripple effect. We did this one and now the next three houses are all fixing up," Griffin said.

Birmingham realtor Laura Pazdzierz is listing the home.

"I was so excited to be part of their enthusiasm to help rebuild Detroit, because essentially that is their goal," Pazdzierz said.

She was also impressed with the work that was done.

"I mean, the updates in this home, you can find in Royal Oak. They're really bringing that element to Detroit," Pazdzierz said.

The house is on the market for $79,900. And even though it hasn't sold yet, Griffin and Fylak said they're already looking for another house to buy.

Anyone who is interested in looking at auction houses available in Detroit, visit BuildingDetroit.org.