In this year’s tax foreclosure auction, 6,367 “blighted” properties have been bundled together. The effect is that, while they are for sale, they are not for buying. A purchaser interested in any one of them would have to take on the whole $3 million pile. The “logic” behind this is that the properties are considered “unsellable” and unsalvageable and so should rightfully be the property of our city’s largest property holder- the Detroit Land Bank Authority.
The effect is that most of the vacant properties have been taken out of the auction, and thus we have lost access to the most legitimate and defensible way for people to participate. When the vacant properties are taken, we leave every real estate agent and property manager and speculator and investor and home owner and renter to fight over the occupied homes in a funnel that filters out Detroit residents.
Just to be clear, any unsold properties (aka those that are actually unsellable) will be transferred to the Land Bank after the auction. The blight bundle is a conveyor belt to ensure they get there. It is a land grab. It is a manipulation of the system. It is deeply frustrating.
I have yet to hear a defensible justification for the blight bundle. Of all the atrocities of the property taxes and foreclosures and the auction, the one redeeming quality is that it does, in some cases, allow residents to have a fresh start. Practices like the blight bundle are just one more nail in the coffin of what is either a highly dysfunctional representative government or a highly functional displacement machine.