Detroit to auction vacant homes online starting at $1,000

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DETROIT — In its ongoing battle to fight blight and boost home values, Detroit is launching a website where it will auction off vacant homes that were seized in tax foreclosures. launched Monday with 15 home listings that will start getting auctioned off on May 5.

One property will be auctioned each day, with the opening bid starting at just $1,000.

But there’s a catch: Winning bidders must quickly rehabilitate the home and have someone living in it within six months or else they will lose the house and their money.

“We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” said Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday. “Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.”

Many of Detroit’s neighborhoods were hit hard during the foreclosure crisis and have yet to recover as the city struggles to get out of bankruptcy. The city currently owns 16,000 vacant homes as a result of tax lien foreclosures, in which homeowners failed to pay their property taxes and other municipal fees.

“People have walked away from great homes in their neighborhood because they thought their block had no future. Well, they left too soon,” city council president Brenda Jones said in a statement.

Sales are only open to Michigan residents and companies with no prior building code or blight violations or tax foreclosures.

Winning bidders will have to act quickly, though. They’ll have to come up with a 10% down payment within 72 hours; close and make a full payment within 60 days if the purchase price is less than $20,000 or within 90 days if it’s more than $20,000.

Rehab must also begin within 30 days after taking possession and buyers must submit reconstruction plans with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which is overseeing the program. And they must have someone living in the building within six months. Failure to meet the deadlines will result in forfeiture of the property.

“We are not looking for speculators” said Land Bank chairwoman Erica Ward Gerson. “If you’re not going to act diligently to fix up the house, you’ll lose the house and your money.”

An open house will be held on April 27 so bidders can look inside all 15 homes currently on the website, according to city councilman Andre Spivey.

Twelve of the homes to be auctioned are in the East English Village neighborhood. The first home to go on the block is a 1,400 square-foot, brick Colonial with three bedrooms and one and half baths that was built in 1941. The buyer will have to install a new furnace and water heater.

“We’re going to fix up entire neighborhoods at once,” said Duggan. “It’s important that everyone who buys one of these houses is serious about getting them rehabbed and occupied.”


  • Mooch

    Here is a better idea…..lets just allow people to continue to walk away from more homes to just move somewhere else and not pay there and cause the same thing to happen in all cities and states! These people who walk away deserve to pay for what they are causing and its way to easy for someone to just walk away and forget about a home they cannot afford nowadays….these people need to pay what they have done and the state should garnish their wages or whatever else they can do to get this city back right……to many moochers out there who leave one house to go find another and just continue to trash other neighborhoods…squatters is what we call them here! make these people pay because the only people who are feeling the affect of all of this now are the people who continue to live in the area and fight hard to pay their bills and all they receive in return is a drop in their own home value and a trashy neighborhood!

    • Jethro Bodink

      Mooch, I understand what you are saying. There is another option as well, stop buying things made in China and buy American. I am just as guilty as anyone else looking for something cheap but until America starts buying American not much is going to change.

      • Mooch

        Jethro, I agree as well and I am guilty of it, but when nothing is made in America anymore and all is being exported, pretty difficult to buy American….and when or if you find something made in America, its cheaply made and doesnt last anywhere near as long as other builds out of state/country.

      • JT

        I’m with you, Jethro–I remember when ALL the products in Wal Mart were made in America. Not so anymore, and it’s getting harder to buy American. And to echo Mooch’s last line, you have a point. It used to be that things made here were of good quality. Not so anymore. For example, I just bought a Chinese M14 over a Springfield M1A. Why? The Chinese receivers are forged and the barrels are NATO spec chrome lined. The Springfield receiver is cast, out of spec (makes it nearly impossible to mount a scope on it), and the barrels are not chrome lined. It’s sad when you’d rather buy a used rifle from China rather than a new one made here…

  • Will Grant

    Detroit is getting what it deserves. Let it collapse completely, then maybe think about starting from scratch.

  • mojorisin73

    40 years worth of corporate/government backed trade deals that has caused our jobs to leave the US and things like this is the result of it. Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for this but yet, the majority of Americans are still delusional and continue to vote for one of the 2 that is being run by the very ones who want to see America become a third world country.

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