Detroit Launches Online Auction Site

In a battle to fight blight, the city of Detroit has launched a city-owned website to auction off vacant homes that were seized by tax foreclosures. On April 14, the city of Detroit launched the new website — www.BuildingDetroit.org — to auction 15 properties featured on the website, with an opening bid of just $1,000.

The 15 homes will be auctioned starting May 5. Twelve of the properties are located on the city’s east side in East  English Village.

The bankrupt city owns 16,000 vacant homes that were seized in tax lien foreclosures over the last several years. The auctions will only be open to Michigan residents, and winning bidders must first register and put down 10 percent within 72 hours and close the deal with full payment in as little as  two months.

“We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Mayor Duggan told the Detroit Free Press that city’s new auction program will be slow and more regulated than Wayne County’s auction portal that selsl properties for as low as $500. The city plans to conduct one auction a day, taking online bids between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Winning bidders must begin rehab work within 30 days after taking possession, and buyers must submit reconstruction plans with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which is overseeing the auction program.

“Once you close, you cannot sit on the house. You have 30 days to bring the land bank a signed construction contract to rehab the  property,” Duggan said. “If you don’t do it, you lose the money and we take the house back.”

Duggan said the city will start suing the owners of other blighted properties. If owners don’t quickly settle with the city, the Detroit Land Bank will seize the homes and decide whether or not it should go up for auction.

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

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