Recently Dave Chesar of Oakwood heard a story we did about the 6,000 abandoned properties in Dayton.
"At the end of the piece it said that the one thing that needs to happen is people need to start purchasing the properties," Chesar said. So he wondered: how do you actually do that? Who do you call? Is there a list? "Who really is the person, or group that can kind of transform those 6,000 vacant and distressed properties into properties that have a name, price and location?"
Dave Chesar got in touch at just the right time. We were getting ready to launch WYSO Curious, a new series where listeners ask questions for WYSO reporters to answer. We used Dave's question as a launching pad to explore how Dayton’s vacant properties change hands—and ended up having a bit of an adventure. Listen to the results:
The short version of the answer is, there is not a single service that aggregates all the information you need if you want to buy up a vacant lot or home. You'll want to start on the Montgomery County Auditor's website, where you can search for properties by owner name or by street address. It's important to know the tax status, so you don't accidentally purchase a home that comes with a bunch of tax debt. Plus the city of Dayton has a program in partnership with the county that allows residents or companies to buy up vacant lots that are behind on their taxes.
But you'll find a lot of homes with a more complicated story—it's not always that the owner has disappeared completely. In some cases, the person who owns a home may think he or she lost the home to the bank in a foreclosure, but the process was never completed. In other cases, the owner, especially if it's a bank, may not have the capacity to advertise and sell the property simply because there are so many foreclosures and vacancies in the city right now. In any case, the city of Dayton recommends thoroughly doing your homework about the status of a home before you buy it. The "homework" for a home Dave Chesar got interested in was quite complicated, and led to a sort of surprising dead end. Listen above for that story.
And as a reminder, this is just the first story in a series WYSO's launching in partnership with WBEZ in Chicago. Are you curious about the Miami Valley, its history, people or economy? Is there a place, a person or a story that mystifies or intrigues you? Do you like to ask questions? WYSO Curious lets you ask questions for WYSO reporters to answer. Go to the page on our site to ask a question, and vote on the next question we'll answer.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's economic reporter. Follow him @lewispants.