City selling foreclosed properties to nonprofits for $1

Nonprofit organizations looking for a home in Milwaukee now have an opportunity to purchase city-owned, tax-foreclosed properties for $1, thanks to legislation approved by the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday.


Through the legislation, which was authored by Common Council president Michael Murphy, qualifying nonprofits can pay $1 for a property that has been on the market for at least 60 days and has a maximum asking price of $20,000.

Prior to the legislation, which was co-sponsored by council members Russell Stamper II, Robert Bauman, Willie Wade, Nik Kovac and Ashanti Hamilton, nonprofits could purchase foreclosed properties owned by the city for $1,000.

To be considered for a $1 transaction, nonprofits must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization “with demonstrable experience in residential renovation,” according to the city. Organizations will need to show proof of financing for renovation work before closing, and properties that buyers maintain as investments will be subject to real estate taxes.

The new policy will work in tandem with a second piece of legislation approved by the Common Council on Tuesday. That legislation builds on a pilot program in which the Department of City Development selected five real estate brokers in a Request for Qualifications to market up to 100 tax-foreclosed properties. The nine-month program, which launched last November, resulted in the sale of 67 properties and an additional 18 properties in the process of closing, according to reports from the DCD in mid-July.

“I’m glad to see this pilot program exceeding our expectations,” Murphy said. “Using real estate brokers to market the city’s stock of foreclosed properties has turned out to be an excellent example of a public-private partnership with the potential to benefit property owners citywide.”

Through the legislation adopted on Tuesday, the DCD will select five more brokers to begin marketing properties. All 1,000 of the foreclosed properties owned by the city will be eligible for marketing in the program.

“This is yet another good step toward moving city-owned foreclosures off of the auction block and onto the tax rolls,” Murphy said. “Instead of accumulating blight and negative equity, these properties can once again become someone’s home.”

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