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Jackson ratcheting up efforts to sell of vacant lots and foreclosed properties

City of Jackson vacant lot
Posted at 6:01 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 18:01:13-04

JACKSON, Mich. — The city of Jackson recently sold its 100th vacant side lot, part of a ramped up effort to sell of city own land and houses.

They are doing it through the City-Owned Property Sales Program. Through tax foreclosures and demolitions, the city owned more than 500 properties at the start of the year.

Public information officer Aaron Dimick said they’re in the business of providing city services, not real estate.

“We do spend a lot of time, money and resources on the properties so, we thought it would be good to turn to the community and put these properties up for sale,” Dimick said.

When they started this program at the beginning of 2021 the city had 532 side lots, “which is a huge number,” according to Dimick.

Which means there are still 432 lots available to purchase. There are certain requirements to meet such as having an adjacent property, meaning if you are across the street and it doesn’t touch your property you wouldn’t be able to buy the lot. That's meant to encourage neighbors to buy the lots and incorporate them into their property. Most are too small to be redeveloped.

A minimum offer of $300 is required. City officials say the majority of residents who purchase these lots pay around $360. Residents work with the assistant to the city manager to acquire the land.

City of Jackson vacant lot
Jackson vacant lot

“We also want to make sure that you don’t owe anything to the city. If you owe any fines or fees, any Neighborhood and Economic Operations violations or owe any unpaid water bills or taxes you have to settled up with the city before we’re going to give you property,” Dimick said.

So far, the city has generated $45,170 in revenue from the sales of these side lots.

“That’s money that can go back into our city resources,” Dimick said. “The money from our property sales go into our general tax revenue fund. Those funds go to power things like police and fire and parks and all of the city services.”

But it isn’t just side lots. It’s also houses and other properties.

A total of 28 such properties have been sold over the past year bringing in $388,934 in estimated revenue. Dimick says the vacant properties which were acquired through tax foreclosure are sold to investors and families to bring back to life as homes.

“It’s really great to think about offering a low-cost housing option to people in the community. People may be unable to afford rising real estate prices that they can buy one of these homes at a low cost and bring it back to life,” he said.

The city has been working with real estate agents to sell off properties. Prices have ranged from $500 to $130,000.

“So if you open up Zillow or any other real estate website you can see the properties there,” Dimick said.

City of Jackson
City owned property on 902 First St.

Once an offer is approved, it is reviewed by the City Council because the sales are typically for a higher dollar amount than side lots.

“We want to take our time and make sure that they are ready to be sold,” Dimick said. “Right now we have four properties on our website that people can see and take a look into and see if it’s going to be good for them.”

The city owns 42 remaining vacant properties within the city limits. Officials had been tearing down structures over the past decade, but decided to move away from the practice to benefit both the local government and its residents according to Dimick.

“Once you tear something down on one of these properties it’s going to be very hard to build a new home in the city because the lot is going to be small, or a new kind of house is not going to fit in that area,” he said.

Plus, he said, “We’re spending less resources on maintaining these properties. If you live next to a vacant lot, it’s kind of like a missing tooth in your block smile. It’s kind of like by selling that property you can take care of it and your block can look its best.”

If you would like to get more information or are interested in purchasing a lot or property you can visit the city’s website.

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