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Homes: What you can buy for $50,000 or less

Photo courtesy of Zillow

Fifty-thousand dollars can still buy you a decent fixer-upper, but it's really going to depend on where you look -- and how much sweat equity you want to put in.

Some problems -- like broken fixtures, minor water damage or paint chipping -- can be fixed with a little extra cash and elbow grease. There are plenty of these homes on the market at low price points that could be great starter homes or investment properties for the right buyer.

In Indianapolis, $50,000 will get you a three-bedroom ranch house with a deck and an updated kitchen. That same amount will buy a five-bedroom historic Detroit home with a mother-in-law suite. Older adults could head to San Diego's Leisureland community of prefabricated homes where $50,000 (and some pricey homeowners' fees) will buy two-bedrooms, a master bath and access to a swimming pool.

But other problems are outside any homebuyers' control. A sub-par school district, heavy crime or limited transportation access could sink a property's value even more over time. If it comes down to a choice between making some repairs and taking a gamble on your neighborhood, the old adage "location, location, location" won't steer you wrong.

Build a team of experts that are familiar with the local market before taking the plunge on a property. A good real estate attorney, agent or broker and especially a good home inspector can help make sure you don't get stuck with a less-than-ideal house, an underwater mortgage or a pile of legal concerns.

Here are 10 homes you can buy for $50,000 or less.

This is part of a series that looks at what type of house and amenities you can get at particular price points in various locations across the U.S. Be sure to check out a few of the other posts in the series:

Atlanta, Georgia

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This three-bedroom, one-bathroom, single-story ranch house in the Center Heights subdivision of Atlanta is on the market for $50,000. It features hardwood and tiled flooring, a backyard patio with a barbecue and attic storage. The home's price has gone up significantly since it last sold for $18,500 in April 2013.

The increase is likely a result of the extensive renovations and additions to the property, which include refinished floors, updated bathroom fixtures and plumbing, new kitchen countertops and appliances, and new siding, gutters and windows.

But neighborhood development is another important part of the picture: According to the listing, a new Atlanta Police Department precinct is set to open 150 yards from the house in 2015. Other nearby facilities scheduled to open next year include a new rec center and Metro Library.

Chicago, Illinois

Photo courtesy of Zillow

Located on the far South Side of Chicago, this three-bedroom, two-bathroom brick bungalow is currently listed for $50,000. It has hardwood flooring on the first level, an unfinished basement and a screened indoor/outdoor patio. The kitchen, basement and exterior show obvious signs of wear. The price of the house has gone down by more than 57 percent since it last sold for $117,000 in May 2004.

Zillow predicts median home values in the area will continue to fall over the next year. High crime rates are the likely culprit. According to AreaVibes, the number of violent crimes in the Roseland neighborhood is 33 percent higher than the city's average.

Bronx, New York

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 700-square-foot, no-frills Bronx co-op is for sale at $50,000. It has pink bathroom tiles, old-fashioned oil heating and a tiny kitchen with very limited counter and cabinet space. The property has been listed and delisted a few times since July 2013, always at the same price. The median apartment this size is valued at about $160,300 in the area.

Compared to the median price per square foot in Manhattan, which has risen to $1,538 since we last reported it at $1,396 in August, this place is a steal. It's even cheap compared with the U.S. median list price per square foot, which is currently at $120.

Houston, Texas

Photo courtesy of Zillow

You can buy this two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in Houston's Westbury Gardens community for $50,000. You'll have to budget for a $280 monthly maintenance fee. It features in-unit laundry, a dishwasher, an uncovered parking space and community pool access. While the property "needs some TLC," according to the listing, it does include the former owner's antique piano.

The home's price has only increased slightly since it was listed for $40,000 in 2010. It's much less expensive than the $249,900 median price of homes currently listed in Houston.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This three-bedroom, one-bathroom row home in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia is listed for $47,000. Its price was reduced from $50,000 earlier this month and had been previously reduced from $69,900, when it first went on the market in June. The property has a front porch, basement and an eat-in kitchen. It does have some interior and exterior damage.

This place isn't too much cheaper than other homes in the area, which has a median home value of just $68,300. The overall Philadelphia median home value is $114,800.

Phoenix, Arizona

Photo courtesy of Zillow

For $50,000, you can own this three-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch house in the Wier Estates subdivision of Phoenix. It features a carport with two spaces, a fenced yard and according to the listing it "can be made move-in ready" despite the fact that this "fix-up needs repair."

The property has been on and off the market since August when it was listed for $60,000. Its current price is only about 30 percent of the median home value for the city, which is $165,000.

San Diego, California

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This three-bedroom, two-bathroom prefab home in San Diego's Leisureland community for adults aged 55 and older is listed at $50,000, plus $804.50 in monthly homeowner fees. The property, which is in the Webster neighborhood of San Diego, has double vanity sinks, a walk-in closet, two carport spaces, in-unit laundry and community pool access.

This home was first listed for $75,000 in April, and delisted shortly thereafter. The home has been on the market for $50,000 since August. It costs way below the pricey $491,400 median home value for San Diego, making it a relatively good local choice for retirees.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This three-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch house in Warren Township is on the market for $50,000. It has laminate flooring, a laundry room, dishwasher and backyard deck. According to past tax records, the home's value has remained relatively consistent since 2004 when it was assessed at $55,400.

The median price of other homes currently listed in the area is only about $65,500. This is probably due in part to violent crime rates, which are 242 percent higher than Indiana's state average, according to AreaVibes.

Detroit, Michigan

Photo courtesy of Zillow

It's easy to get a lot of house for your money in Detroit these days, and this five-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-family home in the Warrendale area is no exception. It's currently listed for $50,000. The property features a front porch and rear deck, an attic, partial basement and mother-in-law suite. Its price has gone down since May, when it was first listed for $60,000.

Tampa, Florida

Photo courtesy of Zillow

This three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom house in the East Ybor area of Tampa is on the market for $50,000. It has a deck, new roof, attic and room to park an RV. According to the listing, its ceilings have water damage, its flooring needs to be updated and its shower needs to be fixed. If the exterior photos are any indication, the outside of the home also needs some work. Its price has increased since it last sold for $29,000 in 2010.

The area may have high violent crime rates, but Zillow predicts local real estate values will continue their current upswing reflective of Tampa Bay.

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