May 23rd, 2017
The Commercial Alliance of REALTORS supports the Kent County Commissioner’s discussion regarding the future of the Kent County Land Bank . While some media reports laud its success, concerns of the actual need for the program remain.
The Commercial Alliance of REALTORS believes in concept that the Land Bank model of disposition of tax – foreclosed properties can be an effective model – especially in challenging economic times when the number of such foreclosed properties is higher – if used fairly, correctly, and for a finite period of time. However, the market has rebounded successfully to a point where available properties are few, and inventory levels are at historical lows. Investors are seeking properties in all conditions and financial situations.
The Commercial Alliance of REALTORS believes that the funding structure and practices of the KCLB, that rely on the sale of tax foreclosed properties to the KCLB before the public tax auction is an unfair practice, violates the concept of free and open markets, and may be a violation of the County’s duties and policies with respect to the purchase and resale of tax foreclosed properties. Preventing a free and open bidding process diminishes the opportunities otherwise available when properties are offered on the open market to any qualified buyer.
In addition, the sale of these properties to the Land Bank prior to the auction significantly reduces the County’s revenue from the tax sale at a time the County was trying to eliminate a deficit within its budget. With properties being sold within days of coming on market, there is no reason for the Land Bank to preempt potentially higher priced sales and additional tax revenue.
The Commercial Alliance of REALTORS also is opposed to the KCLB’s purchase of properties that are not in a blighted condition, but simply vacant. The purchase of these properties is outside of the scope of the original mission of a Land Bank.
Considering today’s market conditions, low property inventories, and few foreclosed or vacant properties, it is our position that the Kent County Land Bank has fulfilled its purpose and should be sunsetted.