Delhi Township 'flips' houses acquired for $1

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By Jon Gaskell
Holt Journal staff writer

Delhi Township has been in the home flipping business lately. The township’s Community Development Department has acquired three properties since 2009 in an effort to steady property values and improve the local housing market.

The program allows local governments to acquire properties that have been on the market for more than six months from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for only $1.

Delhi Township uses money from a revolving fund to renovate the blighted property. After selling the house on the market, Delhi Township puts the profits back into the revolving fund for further reinvestment.

In a November, 2010 memo, Director of Community Development Tracy Miller outlined the purpose of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. “We have seen an unprecedented number of foreclosures and property abandonments in recent years,” said Miller.

“Evidence has shown that a single blighted house in a neighborhood can and will have a contagious effect on surrounding properties.”

Kathy Malone, planning secretary for the Community Development Department, said that the first house Delhi “flipped” was on 4240 Woodworth Ave. After $21,835 in repairs, the property was sold for $51,000 in 2009.

The township later acquired a condominium unit at 4360 W. Holt Road. After $17,374 in repairs, the property sold for $44,000.

The program’s latest acquisition of a single-family home at 2138 Dean St., is on the market for $69,900 after renovation costs of $51,000.

Not everyone thinks the project is a good idea, however. At an Oct. 18, Committee of the Whole meeting local contractor Doug Benson questioned whether the program gives government an unfair advantage in the local real estate market.
“I’ve been against this thing since the beginning because you guys are doing what I like to do, which is to flip and create beautiful houses in Delhi.” said Benson. “Was I able to buy those houses for a dollar? I didn’t have a chance to employ myself with $1 houses.”

“That always concerns me when my government has a competitive advantage over me.” said Benson. Benson urged that the township to “have a little discipline” with the projects.

“Today you’re making margins so you can afford to be sloppy, tomorrow when, all of the sudden, you’re pouring $55,000 into a house that goes for $45,000, none of us are going to be too happy.”

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