Posted by Jerry:
On the WDWOT Question & Answer board someone just asked: “Do you know what the county does with the properties that don’t sell in either auction? If so, is there a way that a citizen can still purchase one that didn’t get any bids?”
This is a great question, and one I hope we can get a truly concrete answer to. After last year’s tax auction I went down to the county office to ask the same question in person and was given this piece of paper:
“Properties not sold at the WCT 2011 Auction are offered to the local communities and most properties will be taken by the locals. We have no control over properties once they are taken by the locals.
Any property not taken by the locals will enter the Wayne County Treasurer’s inventory and determination will be made at a later date as to how to proceed on the properties.
You can indicate your interest in a parcel by emailing us at email@example.com.
NOTE: The Wayne County Treasurer make[sic] no representations as to what will happen with the property.”
I gave the firstname.lastname@example.org email address to a number of people who called and wrote to WDWOT asking this question, but I never heard about anyone actually getting through to the county and acquiring an unsold property, which is very defeating.
Searching around again just now, I found an article from February about the county trying to offer unsold properties to occupants:
More than 6,000 Detroit homes, foreclosed because taxes weren’t paid, didn’t sell at auction last fall. The county treasurer’s office doesn’t want to see them abandoned and is willing to negotiate with anyone living inside, including owners who no longer have a right to the property.
It looks like there’s lots of room for improvement, and of the 7,000+ properties that did not sell for $500 at last year’s auction, at least 5,000+ still didn’t find owners because they were re-auctioned again this summer (the auction was held offline via sealed envelope, so no answer yet on how many sold).
But it makes me think, if we can get solid confirmation from the county that unsold properties really are made available to “the locals,” then we can do a sort of “meta land bank” that doesn’t try to own the unsold properties (ala the crowdfunded approach to No Property Left Behind), but instead transparently tracks them, loudly publicizes them, radically simplifies applying for them, and assures there’s a clear path for people to occupy them, tear them down, clean them up, or whatever’s called for.
Thoughts on that? Take it to the Facebook thread. We’re a head full of ears.