The economic downturn has caused pain for countless American homeowners and wreaked havoc on businesses small and large. But there's one segment of the population that just continues to do better and better: real estate investors
. For proof, look no further than the latest real-estate reality programming, "Flip Men," in which two tough guys buy foreclosed properties at auction, sight unseen, in the hope of finding a gem among the crystal (crystal meth
, that is).
But you don't have to be a TV star to pick up property for pennies on the dollar. Consider Tuesday's tax foreclosure auction
in Ann Arbor, Mich. According to Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary, as little as $350 -- the minimum opening bid -- could land you a choice parcel worth about $1 million. "I don't know where you can buy acres and acres of land for single family homes for $350," McClary told Ann Arbor.com
. (That's one of the 21 available parcels pictured above.)
While bidders in Michigan have to show up in person if they want to take advantage of the "last chance" prices, most municipal foreclosure auctions have moved off the courthouse steps and onto the Web
. Last year, foreclosure-plagued Florida, for instance, became the first state to to turn to cyber-auctions to process distressed property sales, making it possible for potential buyers anywhere to get a piece of the action. That may be one reason why foreign buyers accounted for 31 percent of all Florida home sales
through March of this year, according to a Fox Business
McClary's auction is for properties foreclosed on for back taxes, but with so many homeowners in distress, property auctions of all kinds are enjoying a spike in popularity these days. Take a gander at these luxury homes
, for instance, all upward of $1 million (in some cases way upwards) and all soon to be or recently on the block:
5 Foreclosure Flip Tips From the 'Flip Men'
Luxury Homes on Auction Block in Bid to Buy Some Buzz
Tempted to Invest in Real Estate? Read This First
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.
See celebrity real estate.