The Kent County Land Bank Authority has a policy that prohibits it from buying tax-foreclosed properties that are occupied. “We don’t go into occupied properties,” said KCLBA Executive Director Dave Allen.
But Allen said the board may have to change that policy at its meeting later this month because 29 of the foreclosed houses located throughout the city that the land bank is purchasing from Grand Rapids are occupied.
KCLBA Director of Real Estate Development David de Velder will visit the occupied residences and set up appointments to have the houses inspected. The land bank will have Home Repair Services evaluate each structure.
Allen said the land bank will give residents the first opportunity to purchase the homes that are in good condition, but at the current market price. He said most, however, won’t financially be able to accept that offer and the land bank will help them relocate to comparable housing.
The agency also will help relocate those found living in sub-standard dwellings, but de Velder said blighted houses are normally unoccupied.
The land bank is buying 163 tax-foreclosed properties from Grand Rapids for $1.182 million; that payment is due July 19. The organization plans to take possession of the sites July 22 and then de Velder will begin visiting the occupied homes.
“When I saw that number, it took my breath away, too,” said County Commissioner Stan Ponstein, a KCLBA board member, of the city’s foreclosure count. “The city of Grand Rapids was unhappy with the tax-foreclosure sale because a lot of those properties fell back into foreclosure. They wanted something different.”
Allen said every property will be listed with the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors and will be graded on a three-point scale on both the exterior and interior as to its condition, with a three being the highest rating. A house offered for sale with an “as is” tag means the inside and outside both have a one rating. “It’s not a blighted property. It can be lived in,” he said.
“We’re going to get the properties in an as-is condition for sale. We are not going to do whole-house renovations to get these ready for sale in October,” he added.
Allen also said the sold properties will come with a title, something sales at the annual auction don’t always offer. Sometimes an auction buyer purchases a property and then finds out that a mortgage or lien holder hasn’t been informed of a property’s tax-foreclosed status, which creates a problem to get the title.
“Our sales this year are going to have a little bit of teeth. I met with (Grand Rapids managing director of community development) Connie Bohatch and she is happy with our process,” said Allen.
The land bank plans to have the properties listed by the end of September and will begin selling the parcels in October.