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Detroit property taxes

Anti-foreclosure activists in front of Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree's home.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Anti-foreclosure protesters targeted Wayne County treasurer Eric Sabree where he lives—outside his Detroit home—on Thursday, calling for an end to “illegal” property tax foreclosures.

A report and lawsuit claims that Detroit over-assessed up to 85% of homes in the city from 2009-2015. That violates the Michigan state constitution, which caps local tax assessments at 50% of a property’s market value.

A new study shows that as many as 85% of homes in Detroit might have been taxed at rates that violate the Michigan Constitution.
BasicGov / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit may not get the attention it deserves. In fact, the tax foreclosure crisis didn’t just happen, and it doesn't continue to happen, by unfortunate circumstances. There are decisions behind it. One group says those decisions are illegal.

Little Caesars Arena Construction site in downtown, with a Pistons banner
Tyler Scott / Michigan Radio

A federal lawsuit seeks to block some public funding of Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and a new Detroit Pistons headquarters without a vote from city residents.

The lawsuit Thursday says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit's public schools.

Property tax assessments mailed to Detroit residents show the wrong deadline for appealling. Officials extended the deadline to February 28th.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has extended the deadline for residents to appeal their property tax assessments for this year. The city decided to extend the deadline because statements were sent out to residents later than usual, due to the city only recently competing its first re-assessment of property values in decades.

Statements mailed to residents still list the old deadline for appeal. At least one tax attorney worries residents will see the old deadline on their statements and think it’s too late to appeal.

A neighborhood in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit homeowners should start seeing property tax bills that better reflect the true value of their home.

That’s because the city just finished its first city-wide residential property re-assessment in six decades.

The city says these new assessments are based on actual property sales from October 2014-September 2016, and other property-specific data.

Detroit houses
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Calling all homeowners.

Did you know that if your income is below a certain level, you can receive tax exemptions on your property tax?

Michigan law calls for it under the General Property Tax Act.

More from the law:

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The first thing you notice about the street in front of Walter Hicks' home is it's peaceful.  There are lots of trees, chirping birds, and most of the lawns are mowed.  

But then you see that the houses on either side of Hicks' home are boarded up. And there are lots of boarded up homes all down the street. 

That doesn't seem to put even a little dent in his pride of ownership.

A house for sale on the Detroit Land Bank's online auction site.
Detroit Land Bank Authority

Most Detroit homeowners should see more relief on their property tax assessments this year.

The city has worked to bring tax assessments more in line with real housing values in the past couple years.

Now city officials say more than 90% of homeowners should see further reductions this year.

Karen Johnson-Moore lives in northwest Detroit, an area that should see up to 15% reductions in most neighborhoods.

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.”