Detroit Launches Online Auction for Vacant Homes, Improve Parks

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The city of Detroit has launched a new auction website, buildingdetroit.org, in an effort to better connect potential homebuyers with vacant city-owned houses. Starting May 5, one home will be auctioned through the website each weekday.

In other city news, Mayor Mike Duggan is expected to announce today a new initiative that aims to improve and increase maintenance of the city’s parks throughout the year. The announcement will be made at 1 p.m. at the Greater Mitchell Temple, at 13737 Curtis, across the street from Diack Park.

As the city entered bankruptcy last summer, it cut funding to parks. Several organizations stepped in with assistance, including Greening of Detroit and the Detroit Pistons. Meanwhile, the city has as many as 70,000 vacant structures, and Duggan has made a point of selling as many homes as possible.

“We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes, and get families living in them again,” Duggan says. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. 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.”

The bidding process will move rapidly to ensure buyers move in and begin fixing up the houses promptly, say Detroit officials. The city will require buyers to pay 10 percent of the bid price within 72 hours of the auction and make full payment within 60 days of the auction if the price is $20,000 or less. If the price exceeds $20,000, the buyer has 90 days to complete payment.

Likewise, the buyer must provide the Detroit Land Bank Authority with proof of property rehab within 30 days of the auction. Failure to bring the property up to code within six months of closing will result in forfeiture of the property.

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

Of the 15 initial homes listed on the website, 12 are in the East English Village neighborhood. On April 27, the neighborhood’s association will host an open house for potential bidders who are interested at looking at the interiors of those homes before bidding begins, says Bill Barlage, president of the East English Village Association.

“East English Village is eager to continue our partnership with Mayor Duggan, his office, and the Detroit Land Bank with regard to the next chapter in our quest for renovation of solid architectural gems,” Barlage says. “We are excited to partner again to produce another successful home tour showcasing a diverse, friendly, and safe neighborhood.”

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