Program gives do-it-yourselfers a home-buying edge in securing foreclosed houses (Crain’s Cleveland Business)

Cuyahoga Land Bank, a nonprofit that works to deal with the foreclosure mess in Cuyahoga County on a house-by-house basis, has launched a program giving prospective homeowners who are handy an edge over other buyers for certain properties.

alling it the “Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage Program,” the land bank said it will earmark certain foreclosed homes from its inventory for qualified prospective owner-occupants for 30 days. The land bank said it will select properties that need moderate investments to make them habitable, such as an average do-it-yourselfer could manage. Properties it judges need repairs beyond those skills will not be put in the owner occupant program.

“Renovating one of our properties can be a wonderful opportunity to get a great home for a great price,” said land bank president Gus Frangos in a statement. “But it can also be daunting to someone that is not a professional rehabber. We’ve designed this program to make it easier for the average person to be able to make rehabbing an old property the path to their dream home.”

The land bank said it will define qualified homebuyers as those who intend to live in the house as their primary residence for at lease three years; renovate the property to specifications set by the land bank; and provide documentation they have the ability to buy and repair the house. Winning owner occupants also have to sign a purchase and renovation contract within three days.

Two properties on the land bank’s list for prospective homeowners include a home in Cleveland and one in Garfield Heights. Each has an attention-getting minimum bid of, respectively, $5,000 and $6,500.

Federal agencies that dispose of foreclosed properties already have such homeowner-oriented incentives because they support home ownership and help stabilize communities.

Homepath.com, the website the Federal National Mortgage Association uses to dispose of foreclosed houses that had federally insured mortgage loans, gives owner occupants a similar edge. Fannie Mae gives homeowners a 15-day head start on acquisitions in each state, except Nevada, where they get a 30-day lead.

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