Herb Strather is an optimist committed to the city of Detroit. Worldwide, he has established 140 Optimist Clubs and has closed more than $2 billion in real estate transactions in and around Detroit. He has donated millions to charities and believes Detroit is by far the most exciting and opportunity-filled place in the world.
Strather admits that, like so many others, he lost millions during the recession, but is enjoying himself getting it back, and at the same time teaching others how to profit by bidding and buying Wayne County Auction deals and leveraging real estate.
He went through the recession in 1980 when interest rates and vacancy rates both went to 20 percent. At that time he was noted for putting together the biggest deals in Southeast Michigan, including Hunter Ridge Condos in Farmington Hills for $43 million and the Republic Development Company apartment portfolio reduction for $65 million.
“I have been to this movie before and made millions,” said Strather. “This time around I am going to carry a few entrepreneurs with me. My goal is to create the next generation of urban developers that will see to it that Detroit communities are reinvented and Detroit’s reputation is restored. I am focusing on hands-on education.”
Strather, who lectures occasionally at Harvard University Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute, believes the best way to educate developers is hands-on — that is, to actually do deals with them. He created Strather Academy and requires all of his students to close a real estate transaction as a prerequisite for graduation.
Strather was the main principal in the creation of the casino industry in Detroit. He collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot, and after winning, became the chairman of Motor City Casino. His group eventually sold their interest to Marion Ilitch for $110 million in 2005. He then went on a buying and building spree. When the market crashed in 2008, Strather had $60 million in bank loans and several projects under development which all took a serious hit along with his net worth.
Right now Strather is getting his money back buying properties with partners and Interns from the Wayne County Auction, bank foreclosures and acquisition strategies.
“The auctions are tremendous,” he said. “Where else in the world can you buy property for pennies on the dollar and get your money back within 2 to 24 months? My students have invested $145,000 and acquired about $1 million in equity. However, you have to be very careful and do it right. I would not advise any outside investors to come in and try this at home alone. I want people who invest in Detroit to succeed. I am offering free advice to potential investors on my website by posting a list of 10 major mistakes bidders must avoid.”
Strather is doing all he can to convince Detroiters to participate in what he calls “the greatest deals in the world.”
At Strather Academy, participants are busy with seminars, webinars, real estate guides and hands-on buying techniques.
“The Wayne County Auction is without a doubt the greatest real estate auction in the world, with 20,000 parcels on the block. Many Detroiters are either unaware or sleeping through this opportunity. I plan to wake them up,” said Strather.
Wayne County charges $2,000 to register to bid, even if the bid is only $500. Strather Academy is making it easier for interested parties to bid by allowing students to bid through the academy without the deposit. For those seriously interested, Strather holds affordable classes where the students learn clever bidding techniques and make team visits to the properties up for auction to determine the occupancy situation, the condition, future use and the maximum bid price.
Strather is offering an abundance of resources to get Detroiters interested in the upcoming auction, including a free webinar, a real estate resource guide for just $9.95, a four-hour seminar with limited seating for just $24, this Saturday, Oct. 4, at Tower Center, 15400 Grand River at Greenfield, and a 100- hour round table live bidding for $499. Interested parties should go to http://www.stratheracademy.comto register.