Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit launches online auction site to fill vacant homes

One of the first Detroit homes up for auction in East English Village.
Credit via buildingdetroit.org

The city of Detroit has launched an effort to fill some of its vacant homes with new residents – an online auction site for city-owned properties.  

There are 15 houses listed on the site now. The plan is for the Detroit Land Bank Authority to start auctioning off one home a day, starting May 5.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says this is part of the city “moving aggressively” to deal with blight.

Duggan says the idea is to get the homes fixed up, and people living in them, as soon as possible.

Only Michigan residents or companies without a history of building code violations or tax foreclosures will be allowed to bid.

“So some of the people in this town that we’ve seen buying multiple properties … are not going to be eligible bidders here,” Duggan said.

Duggan said the city will take additional measures to discourage speculators from bidding.

“Once you close, you cannot sit on the house. You have 30 days to bring the land bank a signed construction contract to rehab the property,” Duggan said. “If you don’t do it, you lose the money and we take the house back.”

Buyers will also be required to put down 10% of the bid price within 72 hours of auction; pay in full and close on the property within 60 days if the purchase price is less than $20,000, or within 90 days if the price is more than $20,000; and show a certificate of occupancy within six months of closing.

Of the 15 properties the city will auction off to start, 12 are in the far-east side neighborhood of East English Village. The city is partnering with the East English Village Association to promote the effort, including a planned April 27 tour of the available homes.

Duggan said the plan is to expand that type of relationship with neighborhood organizations, as the auction expands to more city neighborhoods over time.

Last week, Duggan announced that Detroit will start suing the owners of blighted residential properties. If owners don’t quickly settle up with the city, the Detroit land bank will seize the home, and decide whether or not it should go up for auction.