Monday, February 11, 2008

Available for renovation?

From the mailbag:

"I've been thinking about how to deal with this for a long time because
there are just so many of these places rotting away. Some of them are
spectacular too; its a damn shame that nobody is doing anything with
them. . . Which brings me to my point. I want to try to buy one of
these places myself and make it useful again. My idea is to pay for
as little as humanly possible, try to salvage as much as I can from
the original building, make use of reclaimed materials, and throw
build parties to try to get some free labor for the heavy stuff. I
basically view it as an art project I can live in for a while and then
sell to a family that can really use it. I have some fairly handy
friends who I could enlist if we had a place to work with as well.

It seems like you have good readership on your blog, and maybe some
idea of how to go about acquiring one of these properties so I thought
you'd be interested. I need to get in touch with the right people in
the city govt and basically just get out the word that this is going
on. I'm not rolling in money or anything, but I'd be able to put up
some cash for this venture, and I'd love to find some other people who
might want to contribute time money or materials in exchange for
equity in the finished product.

Any thoughts?



ed said...

That's a very good point. I wonder why that is not happening more often. Do you mind if I post your email? We may get some answers.

The DC Home Again program is only open to developers. They own hundreds of vacant properties.

I suspect the many other owners are holding out for too much money.


Mari said...

This is the city of magnificent intentions, unfortunately there are also complications.
There used to be a program where the city would have a lottery for property for a dollar I believe. The idea was the winner would fix up the property and live in it. But envy, one of the citizenry's big sins got rid of that program because it benefited some VA and MD residents. The city also gave (or sold very cheaply) to non-profits like MANNA to fix up properties. Some non-profits would do nothing because they couldn't get their act together, or something happened that was beyond their ability to deal with and so some houses sat.
Another thing, there is only so much one can do with unskilled labor. They can demolish, sometimes they can paint (or sometimes get more paint on the floor than the wall). But the big things like plumbing and the electrical must be handled by professionals. Fixing up a place is not a simple task, particularly if a place has been vacant for a long while or poorly maintained.
If you can deal with the complications then the problem can be addressed.

Clay said...

I'm the original emailer.

I've actually been in touch with the DC Homestead program. The lottery allows low to middle income people to buy city owned vacants for $250, though currently the program doesn't have enough inventory to support a lottery.

There is also a low interest federal loan scheme aimed specifically at rehabilitating run down properties.

Programs being open to developers really isn't a problem if we have a few people involved. Not hard to form an LLC

ed said...

Hi Clay,

From the Home Again web site: "Once Home Again acquires properties, the land is bundled by geography and economic potential. Pre-qualified developers then bid to purchase and renovate the bundle. Home Again requires that developers apply for pre-qualified status to ensure that they are capable of completing high quality and affordable rehabilitation projects. The selected developer then has one year from the time of closing on the bundle to complete the rehabilitation." "Since its inception, Home Again has held 218 properties in its inventory. ...To date, 47 units have been developed and sold to homebuyers. 32 of those units were affordable to persons at or below 60% of the Area Median Income. 85 properties have been awarded to developers."
here and

The HOMESTEAD Housing Preservation Program is yet another program. I don't know much about it because there isn't much on except this pdf. Single family properties are only open to first time home buyers. Priority is given to tenant and coop associations on multifamily properties. It seems like there has no activity since they canceled the Homestead lottery in 2001.

Thanks Clay. I'll up the blog.