DETROIT (WWJ) – Metro Detroit is part of an elite list when it comes to home affordability. According to mortgage industry professionals, this area is one of just five in the U.S. where a 20 percent down payment can get you a home with a monthly mortgage payment of $1000 or less.

That puts metro Detroit in league with major cities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

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Mortgage expert Keith Gumbinger says the rust belt’s identity has changed for the better — reinventing the area as a hub for technology.

“In Detroit, you guys had a rebirth of downtown is what I’m lead to believe, I’m seeing that there’s more automotive jobs coming back in again,” he says.

Noting that ‘boom and bust’ real estate cycles don’t do much for the typical homeowner, Gumbinger says real benefits come in the form of slow, steady market growth over many years.

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“A lot of those market places suffered from population losses, from 1980s into the ’90s  — earlier in the last decade – you’ve had a lot of the population in exodus which opened up a lot of available housing stock, and that helps to keep homes more affordable,” says Gumbinger.

He says in Detroit, you have to consider the Dan Gilbert factor: Buying downtown buildings and bringing jobs into the city.

“It’s the type of thing you want to do — you want to buy low … and sell high but in order for it to get high you’ve actually got to put in the time, put in the infrastructure – put the investments in and go after the factors that will support making a city a metro-business great and obviously Dan Gilbert has done a great job,” says Gumbinger.

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The other four cities with affordable homes? Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.