Posted by Jerry:
Alex and Mary from the WDWOT team hang out in the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office conference room before our meeting:
Yesterday Mary and Alex and I from the WDWOT team sat down with the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction team for a wide-ranging 2-hour discussion. Among those present were County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski, Deputy Eric Sabree, and 1/2 a dozen others from the county team.
David’s been reading all your comments on WDWOT and reached out a couple weeks ago asking if we’d like to meet. It was really great to sit down and share like that. Thanks to David and everyone in that department. I’ll say up front, again, these guys have an insane job trying to deal effectively with this sort of problem at this sort of unprecedented scale, and they really do think through the game theory and trade-offs of different approaches, but things get…complicated.
We talked about a lllooottt of stuff, so I’m going to try and be succinct and action-oriented here with just a couple big things it sounds like we should be working on:
What’s going to happen to the 8,000 properties that didn’t sell?
Cities and towns in Wayne County have until January to decide if they want to take ownership of properties that didn’t sell. It sounds like the county will send the leftovers straight to the Michigan Land Bank, which is, we learned, also what happened to the 5,000+ leftover properties from the 2011 auction.
Note: After last year’s auction Detroit chose not to take ownership of the 7,000+ leftover properties (out of 13,000+ auctioned for $500), at which point the county made an effort to knock on doors and find local buyers, and then tried auctioning the leftovers again for $500 per structure and $200 per vacant lot. Still 5,000 remained, so this year they just want to try to get things to the land bank.
That’s a lot of new properties headed to the state land bank — approximately 13,000 just out of the last 2 auctions — which currently has no effective way for visualizing and communicating around their holdings…essentially the same situation as the county auction but under state control, so WDWOT can be easily pointed in this direction.
*An Additional Note written by Alex Alsup: An interesting point on the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority, which I believe is the entity that will handle these properties — the Michigan Land Bank captures 50% of taxes for five years on any properties transferred out of the Land Bank. Source linked to here, in PDF form. Certainly a necessity for the function of the land bank, just a point worth noting.
We gotta check again, but I see the land bank owning 7,000+ Detroit properties prior to this, so that would put the Michigan Land Bank’s Detroit holdings at up to 20,000 which was the size of the auction that just happened.
Our homework: Go have a beer with the Michigan Land Bank and see what the plan is! Well, that and do some more surveying and conversating around the leftover properties from the last couple auctions. We want to help you and the land bank help each other get a grip on this inventory, maybe especially calling out things that need to be cleaned up or torn down and be helpful in crowdsourcing solutions.
This house that I randomly drove up to playing auction-leftover-roulette the other day is the story of many of these places, and needs dealing with now:
What’s going to happen at next year’s auction?
Big question. One of the things we discussed is how the auction happens once a year, mandated by state law, but the systemic things around it happen every day and can be helped through better early awareness, foreclosure prevention, and preparation strategies.
It sounds like there are 43,000-some properties currently moving into 2013 tax foreclosure and bound for the auction if owners don’t get on a tax plan (which is what happens after 3 years of no property tax payments) . The vast lion’s share is in Detroit which has around 380,000 total properties, so that’s basically 1 in 10 of every lot, house, and building you see in the D.
That number is similar to 2012 year and it’s hoped that roughly 1/2 of those properties get on a tax payment plan and avoid the auction.
To that end, as soon as we can we’re going to map and show this list, and link to an easier way for people to get on a tax payment plan. That way owners and renters alike will have a clear channel for checking the status of where they live and make arrangements if all isn’t right. Hopefully this will also help housing and neighborhood groups in identifying and reaching out to people who may be at risk of tax foreclosure. You’ll be able to just type in your address or cross-streets and see what’s about to fall off the edge of the tax map.
That’s a lot of writing, so I’ll be quiet for a minute.
Don’t forget, at 6 PM on Wednesday, November 28th, LOVELAND is doing a big Model D and UIX event on the auction and Detroit land called “No Property Left Behind” (details and Facebook RSVP are here). Looks like more than 100 people are RSVP’d so far, and David said he or Eric from the auction team will try to make it, too, which is great.
As always, to be continued…