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Mayor’s Meeting on Vacant Housing

May 7th, 2009 · 14 Comments

Mayor Dixon Vacant house meeting

Last night Baltimore’s Mayor Dixon hosted a town hall style meeting about vacant and abandoned house problem.  Mayor Dixon, Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano,  Deputy Commissioner Code Enforcement Michael Braverman and panel of city officials spoke about how the city is handling the vacant properties they own.

Three ways to acquire Baltimore city owned property

Listening to the panel I was impressed that the city has taken steps to correct some of the problems with acquiring city owned properties. Yet it seems they still don’t understand some of the problems. They spoke of three programs.

  • Rolling Bid Program – where small investors and developers can purchase properties from a list of properties available.
  • Request For Proposals (RFPs) – where bundles of properties are offered to developers that can handle larger projects.
  • Scope – Selling City Owned Properties Efficiently. These properties are listed with real estate agents.

The rolling bid program is a little known program which you can find along with Scope properties and  RFPs  on the Baltimore Housing website. The last thing you could call the SCOPE program is efficient. Few investors bother because of the hoops you must jump through.

I am sorry I didn’t catch one of the panelist’s name but he said he has been very good at getting deals approved by the Board of Estimates. The city’s goal is to get these properties in the hands of someone who can get the job done. That is more important to them than getting top dollar.  If you put in a proposal make sure you emphasis how qualified you are, particularly financially.

Baltimore Land Bank Authority

In addition to these existing programs they spoke about the Land Bank Authority they want to create. This has been approved on the state level and is now waiting for City Council approval. This will give the city more flexibility in acquiring & disposing of properties.

MAREIA represents the small investor

After the official presentation many attendees got up to make comments or ask questions. The small investor was well represented, as approximately 25 members of the Mid Atlantic Real Estate Investors Association (MAREIA) showed up. Government affairs Committee Chairman Babara Klaput, President Alan Chantker, and myself all gave our feedback to the panel.

The City has done a good  job of acquiring vacant properties. They own approximately 10,000 of the estimated 17,000 vacant properties in the city. However they have done a very poor job of getting them in the hands of capable renovators.    This meeting makes me believe that will change, but that change will be slow in coming.

Happy rehabbing,


Tags: Advanced tips · real estate

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shawn Costley (1 comments.) // May 12, 2009 at 10:41 am


    Thanks for sharing this info. I had been planning to look at the Scope program for awhile now, but had always heard that things move at a snail’s pace.

    I’d be interested in knowing the experiences of anyone who has utilized rolling bid and whether the process is just as slow.

    Ned, great info overall. I enjoy reading your blog.


  • 2 Ned // May 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm


    Thanks for reading and you nice comments. I know your name but I am not sure we have ever me in person. We should have lunch sometime.

    I too would like to know of anyone’s experiences in with the rolling bid. They talked a good story at the meeting but I don’t think the city leadership has a clue how badly many of their good ideas are implemented.


  • 3 Sire (53 comments.) // Jul 13, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I take it that these vacant properties are acquired at a very cheap price? I am wondering how they became vacant in the first place. What happened to the original owners or their families.

    I understand the red tape involved in the development of properties. We have one that has been vacant for over 20 years, has changed hands several times and every time the new owner submits a plan to the council, and I am talking multi-million dollar plans, it is rejected by the council.

    Sire´s last blog post..Word Of Mouth, A Bloggers Most Effective Marketing Technique

  • 4 Ned // Sep 8, 2009 at 12:13 am


    Thanks for stopping by again, and apologies for so long in approving your message 🙁

    >I am wondering how they became vacant in the first place.

    Starting in the 1950s Baltimore has been steadily loosing population. Originally it was “White Flight” out to the suburbs. Later it was compounded by job loss particularly blue collar jobs. With the loss of population there were simply too many houses and many neighborhoods deteriorated into total war zones. Some neighborhoods damaged by race riots in the 1960s never recovered.

    As far as red tape, the city has been getting tougher on development so we are starting to run into the same kind of issues you describe.

  • 5 Sre (4 comments.) // Sep 8, 2009 at 12:24 am

    So, these people abandoned their homes because they were unable to sell them?
    .-= Sre´s last blog ..Why I Don’t Comment On Blogger Blogs =-.

  • 6 Ned // Sep 8, 2009 at 10:39 pm


    Check out the picture in this post.
    What is a receiver
    There are acres of properties like this in Baltimore. I suspect most were rentals with burnt out landlords that got tired of tenants trashing their properties and just gave up.

  • 7 Sre (4 comments.) // Sep 10, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Man, it sort of makes you wonder why people would want to take on rentals as an investment doesn’t it?
    .-= Sre´s last blog ..Why I Don’t Comment On Blogger Blogs =-.

  • 8 Luvon Dungee (1 comments.) // Oct 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    as a devveloper in Baltimore’s inner-city I have seen alot of vacant units and have come to the conclusion, the only way to develop our Baltimore is to develop our Baltimore. The Mayor and the commissioner can not solve all of our problems as it relates to the vacant units but we as proud developers must assist in changing our concept of the city. Vacant units; should assist with employment which has the abiliity to attract those to a city rich with a unique style of housing. vacant unit also create opportunities for nieghborhoods to flourish with a sense of self direction and wholeness. we need the developers and those with a passion to change to think outside the box with todays development concepts thereby creating homes for those interested in our Baltimore.

  • 9 Ned // Oct 2, 2009 at 12:13 am


    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    You said: “a city rich with a unique style of housing.”

    Absolutely, Baltimore has some wonderful architecture. Imagine how beautiful this city could be if those beautiful homes were renovated and filled with homeowners who took pride in their homes.

  • 10 Eryck // Nov 5, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I am about to retire from the military and come back home to Baltimore. Are you aware of any VA or similar programs for Veterans to buy up some of these properities?

    In short, with out much collateral, I want to purchase a few “connected” city townhomes/ rowhomes (what is the real name/) and build (over time) my retirement housing.

    What is the cities take on timelines to renovate these homes and what if any leniency do they have for the capitol portion?

  • 11 Ned // Nov 6, 2009 at 1:54 am


    I am not aware of any specific VA programs. There are various government programs to assist in investing in real estate but most have strings attached. One string is most assume that you have some money to work with.

    They are generally called “row houses” in Baltimore but townhouse would also be correct. There are ways to get started with modest collateral (money), partnering for example.

    The city has gotten tougher to deal with lately. However I get the sense that they are patient as long as you are making progress. But if you buy a vacant property and let it sit they will often come after you.

    Good luck, – Ned

  • 12 Jay // Dec 3, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I have been interested and looking for a few homes to renovate in the city. To my amaze I was shocked as I drove around the town seeing 100’s of homes in all directions for miles that were in total ruins. A great city as Baltimore should be as it were many years back when all the blue collar workers as myself owned and loved their homes. It is only due to poor City Government and poor police force not delivering what they should be providing, A SAFE AND CLEAN place to live. Too many houses out there and I am determined to take over as many as I can to trun this city around.

  • 13 Ned // Dec 3, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Jay, welcome and thanks for commenting. Yes I agree the city has poor government but I do think the city is on the rebound. Glad you’d like to help and be part of that.

  • 14 humidifier (4 comments.) // Jan 17, 2010 at 1:17 am

    10,000 vacant homes? They better be super cheap deals. I might have to take a look at those properties myself.