Mayor Gary McCarthy’s home-sales program got off to a slow start, but by the end of next week, it will have brought in $455,000 for the city.
The city sold none of the houses for the first eight months, but since June the sales have picked up. Next week the city is slated to do eight closings — presuming they are approved by the City Council. The city obtained the houses through foreclosure proceedings.
There are 35 or more active real estate listings right now and many offers indicating interest.
“I think we’re going to be coming up on lots more of these,” said Assistant Corporation Counsel Rachael Ward.
The city now knows what issues must be resolved to sell a foreclosed house to a residential buyer.
“We’ve got all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” Ward said. “They’ll be able to get these moving a little bit quicker.”
Ward is a new addition to the city’s Law Department. She has extensive real estate experience and will be handling the details of the home sales.
It’s those little details that slow down the sales, Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said.
“Finding buyers isn’t really the problem,” he said. “You’re dealing with judgment creditors.”
The city has to be sure the title is cleared of any judgments owed by the previous property owner.
And city officials have to make sure the new buyers won’t be as bad at paying taxes as the previous owners.
They check to make sure the buyer has never been delinquent in the city, Ward said.
The buyers are told that they have one year to bring the property up to code and that they must live in the house for five years.
City officials place a $20,000 lien on the property, which is dismissed in five years. Buyers must pay up if they don’t live in the house.
“As a trade-off, they get it for a reasonable price,” Ward said.
The next eight properties are selling for an average of $10,000 each. House sale prices have fluctuated, based mainly on the size and condition of the property. One sold for $49,000 and another sold for $5,000.
But the money might not go into the city’s savings accounts.
McCarthy said the regional land bank may take over some of the sales. The land bank is designed to sell property and use the money to demolish houses that are too far gone to save.