Detroit property taxes

via Loveland Technologies

Bidding on this year’s glut of tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County has wrapped up.

Final numbers aren't available yet. But the annual auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as tax foreclosures have soared and flooded the market with delinquent properties.

The Tricycle Collective / via Facebook

 An online fundraising campaign is underway to help 20 Detroit families keep their homes.

The Tricycle Collective assists families facing property tax foreclosure in Detroit.

More than 25,000 Detroit properties are set to go on the auction block at this year’s Wayne County tax foreclosure auction.

An estimated 8,000 are occupied residential homes.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr

After months of outreach and efforts to avoid a massive foreclosure crisis, more than 32,000 Wayne County properties are still on track for the county’s annual property tax auction in the fall.

That’s 32,629 properties county-wide, according to the latest numbers from the Wayne County Treasurer’s office. 28,545 of those distressed properties are in Detroit, the heart of the delinquent property tax issues.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has again extended the deadline for homeowners to avoid tax foreclosure.

Facing the prospect of an unprecedented foreclosure crisis, the county has expanded its outreach efforts to distressed homeowners, and had already moved back the original March payment deadline to Monday. 

Loveland Technologies / via Why Don't We Own This?

A “hurricane without water” and a “looming disaster” — those are just two of the phrases that have been used to describe the unprecedented foreclosure crisis facing Detroit this year.

But this time, it’s not about banks and mortgages. It’s about unpaid property taxes, and efforts to patch up a system everyone admits had been broken for years.

The Tricycle Collective / via Facebook

Most Detroit households should see some relief on their property assessments this year.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office says about three-quarters of households should see their assessments knocked down 10-20%. Outside of 25 “stable neighborhoods” where the city believes property values are truly on the rise, all city homeowners should see some kind of relief.

Wayne County plans to foreclose on a record number of properties next year.

The county has begun issuing notices to almost 75,000 properties for delinquent taxes. Of those, more than 80%--about 62,000—are located in Detroit.

The county is required, by state law, to auction off all properties at least three years behind on property taxes.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The final round of the annual Wayne County property tax foreclosure auction closed on Tuesday.

This year, about 24,000 properties—the vast majority located in Detroit--were up for auction over two rounds.

The auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as the number of tax-foreclosed properties has soared, and bidding moved online.

More than 7000 of the properties up for auction this year were believed to be occupied.

user memories_by_mike / Flickr

The pieces are falling into place for Detroit to eventually emerge from bankruptcy with a lot less of its budget-servicing debt. But the city of Detroit’s budget could still be a house of cards. Many of its revenue sources are not stable.

Bankruptcy does not mean Detroit escapes all of its money problems.

It’s heavily dependent on a city income tax. If another economic dip is around the corner, that source of revenue would shrink.

Casino taxes are stagnant.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz’s office has filed a lawsuit to collect about $80 million in delinquent property taxes.

The irony is that these are taxes owed on properties the county once owned, but sold at auction after they were foreclosed on...for delinquent property taxes.

Why Don't We Own This? / Why Don't We Own This?

It's no secret that the city of Detroit and Wayne County have been hit hard by the double whammy of foreclosed and abandoned homes.

For owners of those homes — or those looking to buy as an investment — there's a resource available online: a website called Why Don't We Own This?

We wanted to find out more about the site, and what it means to owners, investors and the neighborhoods.

Listen to the full interview above.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s no secret that Detroit is much smaller than it used to be.

The city’s population peaked at a little under two million people in the 1950s. It’s declined steeply since then, to about 700,000.

People are still leaving the city. But the rate is slowing, as some people discover new reasons to move in.

Here’s a story about two Detroit households moving in opposite directions — and the different forces tugging on the city’s population.

“We really felt led to live here”

At Jen Janke’s house, conversations can get a little sidetracked.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit-based technology firm says it has an elegant solution to the city's property tax-collection woes.

Loveland Technologies has been mapping the city’s tax-foreclosed properties online. And Loveland founder Jerry Paffendorf says they’ve come across some remarkable data along the way, like this: “The city of Detroit is nearly half a billion dollars behind on property tax collection, when you add in penalties and interest.”