Getting the Jump on Developers

The last time you went househunting, did you sometimes feel as if the corporate investors, developers and rehabbers had all the advantages? If you were shopping for a fixer-upper, it probably seemed as if the guys with the deeper pockets snagged the best homes, made some quick repairs-and then they flipped the houses immediately!hull_ave

But a new Cuyahoga Land Bank program levels the playing field for owner-occupants, giving them an exclusive opportunity to buy properties that need less-than-complete renovation. Here’s how it works:

* Select properties owned by the Land Bank-typically those needing less than $15,000 in renovations-are placed in the Owner Occupant Buyer Advantage Program and listed on the Land Bank’s website, www.cuyahogalandbank.org, for 30 days.
* Included in the listing is a minimum bid the Land Bank will accept for the property.
* During that 30-day period, interested parties can submit an application, view the properties and submit their bids. After 30 days, Land Bank staff review all bids and accept the highest offer from a qualified bidder.
* The buyer then has 120 days to complete the renovations. Once the home passes inspections with the Land Bank and the city, title is transferred and the new owner can move in!

Participants must meet certain requirements: once their bid is accepted, they must deposit the full selling price into an escrow account with the Land Bank and pledge to live in the home for three years. They also must complete renovations by the 120-day deadline. “But the low renovation cost tells them it’s really a moderate amount of work,” says Shannon Imes, programs assistant for the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “Usually they can get the work done for $8,000 to $13,000.

“The Land Bank started the Advantage Program because we always had plenty of offers from investors and professional rehabbers, but owner-occupants couldn’t seem to get their foot in the door,” Imes adds. So far, 14 new owner-occupants have bought their homes through the Advantage Program since it began last August.

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