Kent County Land Bank Approved to Buy 125 Grand Rapids Homes

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (June 3, 2014) — Tuesday, the city of Grand Rapids took a step closer to selling 125 vacant properties to the Kent County Land Bank. The price tag is just over $955,000. The final vote came tonight.

“I’ve been doing community development, real estate development for 20 years, and I’ve never seen it like it is right now,” David Allen, executive director of the Kent County Land Bank said.

Allen presented the land bank’s activity from 2013 to city commissioners, Tuesday morning at a regularly scheduled meeting.

He said the land bank bought 158 tax-foreclosed homes. Of those homes, 103 of which were in sellable condition.

Also, 27 homes are considered blighted and will be demolished using money from the Michigan Housing Development Authority’s “Hardest Hit Fund.”

Allen said, “Blight is something that we’re trying to eliminate but really our main focus is economic development. Our main focus through our land bank is… developers, investors, homeowners get a chance to buy these houses and contractors get a chance to get a contract to the work. For us it’s about creating jobs. Creating economic development.”

This year, the land bank expects about 80 homes in their inventory to hit the market.

Tax-foreclosed homes are sold at auction by the Kent county Treasurer’s Office.
Allen said auctions are a cash-only transaction and that creates a limited pool of buyers.

Allen suggests that some auction bidders have allowed properties to continue to sit vacant.

Under the Kent County Land Bank, he said each property is listed on the “multiple listing service” (MLS) which is a directory of homes for sale, and it’s accessible to the public online. So anybody has the opportunity to buy the properties.

Allen said, “If we can produce more inventory for the market, it will help the prices remain steady.”

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