This feature is the first in our series about new investments in Flint and the people behind neighborhood redevelopment efforts, which are helping longtime residents reap dividends from their dedication to our community and enticing newcomers to take hold. – TheHUB Flint
Nykole Pfaff’s vision for Flint involves lots of ownership.
She believes in the city’s housing potential and is committed to preserving Flint’s homes, neighborhoods and communities. For the past five years Pfaff has worked in multiple capacities to make homeowners of Flint residents interested in contributing more of their lives to their town.
From local renters wanting to buy to community natives returning to their roots, her Pfaff Homes sales team assists clients through Keller Williams Realty. Combined with her newest initiative, Flipping Flint, an independent home rehab company, Pfaff’s efforts are impacting neighborhood blight while helping to repopulate the city.
Pfaff and her family members live around the cultural center area of Flint, which is the main focus area of her sales activity.
“I think, to contribute to the area, you have to live in the area,” Pfaff says.
Already a neighborhood that has been distinguished by the wealthy residents, judges and
attorneys who’ve occupied some of its homes, the cultural center is enjoying a resurgence
“There’s not many run-down homes,” Pfaff says. “You don’t see a lot of that and when you do see it, you’ll usually see investors knocking on their doors.”
Pfaff, through Flipping Flint, and other real estate professionals in the area aren’t shy about expressing interest in properties that show signs of deterioration. They often make purchase offers or support residents with maintenance. Flipping Flint, which has devoted its work to rehabilitating homes in the College Cultural Neighborhood for about two years, includes electrical, plumbing and lawn maintenance staff, who might occasionally be dispatched to address blight at bank-owned properties or others lacking attention.
“If they see something that’s not right they’ll say something to me and we’ll go down there,” Pfaff says. “I stick pretty precisely to that neighborhood.”
“I buy (deteriorated) houses that are deemed ‘not livable,’ usually from people who just want to sell and get out of them.”
In addition to her rehab efforts Pfaff says she sells about 125 houses a year. The sweet spot of her sales target area, near Mott Community College and University of Michigan Flint, attracts professors, seniors and, occasionally, young families.
Most housing stock was built before 1940, she says. Properties often sell for $85,000 to $150,000.
“A lot of these houses are super-cool,” adds Pfaff. “They’re super-old, but they’re houses that have a lot of character.”
Less expensive homes in the Mott Park community start at an average of about $50,000.
Another area gaining attention, she says, is Mott Park. Less expensive homes in the community start at an average of about $50,000. Renters of some of Pfaff’s properties in Mott Park pay as much as $850 monthly for three-bedroom homes, but considering purchases in the area might be advantageous, she says: Students at nearby colleges tend to lease from investors, but a $100,000 loan equals roughly the same amount as rental rates.
“It’s very affordable,” she says. “It’s very affordable for a millennial, it’s very affordable for a senior. It’s very affordable for anyone.”
Pfaff and her family are putting their own stakes into the ground, renovating a College Cultural Neighborhood home on Montclair.
She and her team members work hard to attract residents interested in maintaining and improving properties, she says, adding that she’s encouraged by the efforts of real estate colleagues who are equally devoted to preserving the neighborhood. One investor personally goes door to door to collect rent and seldom has tenants for fewer than eight years.
“I think it’s a good turn for the community, putting people into these homes who are going to take care of them,” she says.
“Five years ago Flint was put on the map as the second most dangerous city in the world. We don’t want to see that. If we can add just one person after another to put a little bit of good in Flint, we might be small, but we believe we can make a difference.”