Those who want to buy a home from the city of Detroit can start with a click of a mouse.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced a new website that will host auctions of fixable homes that his administration takes from negligent landowners who’ve left them vacant.
The website — www.buildingdetroit.org — went live Monday. It will be the city’s clearinghouse for auctions of homes that the city offers through a program Duggan announced last week in which Detroit goes to court to force owners of vacant homes to fix them up and get them occupied or risk deeding them to the city.
The first 15 homes will begin being auctioned in early May. Twelve of them are in the city’s East English Village neighborhood on the city’s east side, some in very good condition and some needing renovations. The first auction will be May 5; the homes and schedule are available on the web site.
“Were laying another huge piece in place in Detroit’s strategy to fight blight,” Duggan said at a news conference, flanked by City Council President Brenda Jones and Councilman Andre Spivey, whose council district represents that neighborhood. “It is not enough to just demolish.”
Detroit is working with the East English Village Neighborhood Association to host open houses at the homes on April 27. Some of the proceeds from the sales of the homes will go to fund the Duggan administration’s program to go after negligent property owners for leaving homes to sit and rot.
Duggan announced last week that the city’s first targeted neighborhood for the blight-elimination program will be 79 homes due south of Marygrove College on the city’s west side, which like many areas of the city was relatively stable until the foreclosure crises of 2008-2009.
Duggan said the city expects to file lawsuits this week on any of the 79 property owners who haven’t yet contacted the city with plans to fix up and reoccupy the Marygrove area homes. Auctions of those properties could begin in June.
Duggan said the city’s auction program will be deliberately slower and more selective than Wayne County’s mass auction that routinely sells homes for as little as $500 to speculators who often don’t fix them up and don’t pay taxes on them.
Initally, the city’s auction site will conduct one auction a day, with bids taken between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Bidders who win will have 72 hours to put down 10% of the bid price. After that, bidders with auction prices of up to $20,000 will have 60 days to close on a mortgage or pay for the home; those who win bids of more than $20,000 will have 90 days to complete the purchase. Those who don’t meet those deadlines will lose the houses and money they put down on them.
There are two other critical measures that Duggan said will encourage home purchases by people who want to live in the houses: Within 30 days of the closing, new owners must provide the Detroit Land Bank with executed construction contracts for rehabilitation. Owners must have the homes certified for occupancy and either live in the house or have tenants in them.
In addition, the city will compare potential bidders against a database of developers or property owners with track records of unpaid taxes or excessive code violations; people with too many violations will not be eligible to bid on the homes.
“This is not for the kind of speculators we’ve seen in the past,” Duggan said. “This is only for people who are serious about fixing up the house and being good neighbors.”
HOW IT WORKS
¦ Homes soon available for auction can be viewed at www.buildingdetroit.org. Open house previews are set for April 27, with the first auction set for May 5.
¦ The city is preparing to take up to 79 negligent property owners to court this week in the Marygrove neighborhood on the city’s west side. Homes where property owners don’t agree to fix up the houses and get them reoccupied could be forfeited to the city, with auctions possible in June.
¦ Talmer Bank has agreed to provide up to $25,000 in forgivable loans to people who purchase and agree to live in the Marygrove homes only.
¦ For more information, go to www.buildingdetroit.org; call 1-844-289-3522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2014 the Detroit Free Press