What is a land bank?
Land banks are governmental entities or nonprofit corporations that are focused on the conversion of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties into productive use.
Vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties are often grouped together as “problem properties” because they destabilize neighborhoods, create fire and safety hazards, drive down property values, and drain local tax dollars.
Land banks, in essence, are a direct response to this growing trend of vacancy and abandonment, created to strategically acquire problem properties and convert these liabilities into assets. In short, land banks are intended to acquire title to these problem properties, eliminate the liabilities, and transfer the properties to new, responsible owners in a transparent manner that results in outcomes consistent with community-based plans.
Most land banks have special powers that enable them to undertake these activities more effectively and efficiently than other public or nonprofit entities. When thoughtfully executed, land banking can resolve some of the toughest barriers to returning land to productive use, helping to unlock the value of problem properties and converting them into assets for community revitalization. (Center for Community Progress)
When are applications due?
Applications are due on the first Friday of each month to be reviewed that month. For example, to be reviewed in May, you must submit your application by the first Friday in May.
How long does the application process take?
The application process timeline varies, but on average it will take 8 to 11 weeks, depending on when you submit your application relative to the deadline. Also, title companies may need more time to conduct a title search on some properties.
What does the application process involve?
The application process involves the submission of a completed online application, including scope of work and proof of funds. Once all the materials have been submitted, the application is put forward for review by the Renew Review Committee. If approved, the application is presented to the Renew Board, after which, if approved, the application will go before the Metropolitan Development Commission for final approval. For a detailed timeline see our chart here.
Can I see the inside of a house and do I have to see the house before applying?
Yes, you can schedule a viewing through our website. Once a request is submitted, you will be contacted by the City. Please be patient, as we get a lot of requests and have a limited number of people to do showings.
It is highly recommended that you view a house prior to applying. It is important to understand the needs of the house for the scope of work that you submit with your application. Not viewing the house will impact the quality of your application and may result in a denial.
When do I pay?
Since the process is an application process and you must receive approval to buy a property, you will not pay anything until you have received final approval. Once you get final approval, you will pay a processing fee. Buyers will pay for the property and other associated costs at the closing, when the property is signed over to the end-buyer.
Why do I have to pay a processing fee?
The processing fee serves two purposes. The first is to help in administrative costs as we are a nonprofit organization. The fee is used to offset the maintenance of the property and to cover processing the paperwork and other aspects of the closing process on our end of the transaction. The second purpose is to ensure that buyers will close; since so many resources go into the application process on our end, should someone decide not to close on a property, all our work and effort will have been for nothing. We appreciate your understanding on this issue.
After I close, will I own the property or will the city/Renew hold the deed?
Once we close, the property is yours. However, attached to the deed is a Project Agreement, which is a contract that stipulates the buyer’s obligation to maintain the property, pay the property taxes, and, if applicable, complete the proposed project within 24 months according to the scope of work submitted with the application.
Once the project is completed, contact Renew Indianapolis to have the Project Agreement Released. Failure to release the project agreement will prohibit the transfer of the property in any way to anyone.
What if I can't complete my proposed project within the 24 months?
Failure to fulfill your project agreement within the 24-month timeline may result in Renew taking back the property. To avoid this, we recommend communicating with us as soon as possible that you will not be able to meet the deadline.
How often do you update your website?
Our property listings are updated in real-time.
How can I get a list of properties?
You can see the properties we have on our website, either on the interactive map or by downloading a spreadsheet. If you can’t access our website we can provide you with a printed list, although it will be out of date quickly.
Can I sell or transfer my Renew-purchased property while the two-year project agreement is attached to the deed?
In short, no. Properties that are purchased from Renew have a City-originated project agreement attached to the deed. The project agreement is a contract between the City, Renew, and the buyer. If a buyer tries to sell or transfer the property, Renew is notified by the title company or the assessor’s office. If a property has been transferred before the project agreement is released, Renew and the city will contact all parties and may seek to have the property returned to Renew and the title company could seek damages from the original buyer.
What does BEP Slated mean?
Renew Indianapolis is the Indianapolis program partner for the Blight Elimination Program (BEP) and the Hardest Hit Fund, which is a Federal program that targets houses that cannot be salvaged and funds their demolition. Houses that have BEP Slated as their status may be applied for but will require a significant scope of work that should address possible structural damage or fire damage.
How can I qualify to apply for a property?
Broadly speaking anyone or any entity can apply for properties. However, eligibility depends on current property tax status and whether or not you have any outstanding code violations on properties owned either by you, your spouse, or company.
I submitted an application after the monthly dealine, what happens?
Application deadlines are always the first Friday of the month. If you submit after that, the application, if the property is still available, will go forward in the following month. Yes, you do run the risk of the property becoming sale pending during that time, if someone submitted a viable application before the deadline. Moreover, from the first Friday deadline to the Review Committee meeting on the fourth Thursday of the month, the property will still continue to be “available” until a decision is made during the Review Committee meeting, after which the property will become “sale pending” or remain “available.” However, you can see whether a property has been scheduled for the Review Committee here.
What programs does Land Bank offer?
The land bank has three types of programs: 1) Homestead, 2) Standard, and 3) Future Development Lots (FDL).
HOMESTEAD: This application is for individuals whose intent is to rehab or build new construction for themselves and use the dwelling as their primary residence. Most individuals may claim a “homestead” deduction on their property taxes on their primary residence.
STANDARD: Standard applications are for individuals or entities whose intention is to rehab or to build new and either sell or rent out the structure. This type of application is for investment purposes.
FDLs: These are select lots that are marked as eligible for the FDL program and do not require any development.
What properties are in the Land Bank's inventory?
City of Indianapolis (DMD Properties)
The Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD), acting as the Redevelopment Authority of Marion County through the Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC), acquires properties for the purpose of neighborhood redevelopment. Most of these properties are acquired following a Tax Sale where the property is publicly offered for sale but are not sold.
Should I use a title company?
In short, yes. While you must go through a title company on land bank properties requiring redevelopment, our Future Development Lots (FDLs) do not require that you close through a title company. However, we highly recommend it. Why? Title companies perform title searches and look for liens and other issues on the title that can cause problems down the road. Furthermore, those issues can often then be cleared up. Title companies also offer title insurance which can offer an extra level of protection against issues in the public record that could come up later.
Why is a particular property not on the Land Bank's list?
Not all vacant and seemingly abandoned property is owned by the City of Indianapolis or the Department of Metropolitan Development. Surplus properties are those properties that have been foreclosed on by the County due to a failure by the owner to pay property taxes and, subsequently, were offered at a tax sale, but not sold. Title to these properties often remain in the name of the last owner of record. These properties, not having been redeemed or sold, will then go forward the Surplus Sale.
Stage of foreclosure or bankruptcy
Some properties are in various stages of foreclosure and bankruptcy. These properties may or may not be current on property taxes and may or may not be maintained. Acquisition of these properties is dependent on the status of the foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings or on a Tax Sale proceeding if taxes are unpaid for 15 months. These properties remain in the name of the last owner of record and at times these properties can be acquired through a short sale. These transactions are conducted privately between the lender(s), owner of record, and prospective buyer.
Tax Sale Process
All properties which are tax delinquent for 15 months (3 tax bill cycles) are eligible for tax sale by law. If an owner has abandoned a property and it is not yet 15 months delinquent, the title remains in the owner’s name. Without a willing seller, these properties remain idle until the Tax Sale process commences.