HousingPolicy.org Forum

Join us on Tuesday, December 8 from 1 - 3:00 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PST) to learn more about land banking as a foreclosure mitigation strategy and get answers to your questions from Frank Alexander of the Emory University Law School. This "Live at the Forum" event is offered in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Foreclosure Response podcast series.

  • Learn about this strategy: The two-part event begins at 1:00 p.m. EST with a 30-minute conference call, in which Professor Alexander will discuss his findings. The call-in number is (712) 432-1001 and the access code is 452746624#.
  • You may also listen to a podcast on the same topic recorded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in September 2009.
  • Interact with the speaker: Immediately following the call, from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. EST, Professor Alexander will be online to answer your questions. All questions should be posted to this thread by pressing the Add Reply button. You are welcome to post at any time leading up to or during the online Q&A session. Questions will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis until time runs out, so post early to be sure yours is addressed.

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About the Foreclosure Response podcast series

The Foreclosure Response podcast series is made available by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Through interviews with experts on various facets of foreclosure - from neighborhood impacts to loan modifications to new strategies - listeners will be engaged in understanding the problems and advancing solutions. Each week, beginning September 24, 2009, and continuing for more than ten weeks, a new interview will be released. HousingPolicy.org is partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to offer online Q&A with the speakers.

Tags: live at the forum

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Replies to This Discussion

As I understand it, creating an actual land bank authority to undertake land banking activities (as opposed to working through existing agencies) can help to reduce the red tape involved in property acquisition and disposition. But reducing the number of agencies involved or the number of approvals needed can also lead to resistance, as officials with each agency worry that a single expedited acquisition and disposition process will reduce their control over the process or even harm their agency financially.

When there is resistance to removing the layers of approvals, are there ways to involve existing agencies in the land banking process while avoiding the mire of red tape that land bank proponents had hoped to eliminate?
The key initial step is to evaluate why there in an inventory of vacant and abandoned properties, and what are the barriers to the property returning to productive use. Creating a land bank makes sense if and only if it targeted to solving a specific problem. In some communities the problem may actually be the lack of capacity in existing city departments to manage real estate. The best way to avoid creating red tape, while trying to remove is to be clear from the beginning abou the problem to be solved.
You mention [in the podcast ]that there are a variety of reasons that a jurisdiction may want to use the process of land banking, but may not want to formally create a land bank. Could you elaborate on these reasons? Also, what are the advantages for a jurisdiction in creating a formal land bank even if it is not technically necessary?
The key, once again, is to be clear about the problem to be solved. If the problem is not in the authority for large scale acquisition of properties by the local government but in the authority to make dispositions for desired public purposes in a way that avoids attracting irresponsible speculators, it may be possible to engage in land banking via an existing public authority or department, with amendments to local ordinances or state statutes on the disposition authority of the local government.
Do land banks ever purchase individual units in a condo complex? If they do, what, if any, are the pitfalls? (This question relates, in part, to an earlier post.)
Land banks probably could acquire individual condo units, and in a few instances may already have done so, but as a general proposition I don't recommend that land banks acquire individual condo units that are vacant and abandoned unless the land bank acquires control of the entire condo regime. Vacant and abandoned condos present a unique set of problems related to the underlying covenants, conditions, and restrictions of the condo itselt that must be addressed.
Hello: Would you please list any California land banks which you consider to be good models? Thanks, EM
I regret that I have not yet worked with land banks in California so I have no answer your question. Perhaps other participants can help on this, and I certainly look forward to working with communities in California on these issues during the coming year.
Is there an example of a "collaborative" land bank, where multiple municipalities have worked together to create a single land banking entity? What are the challenges of a collaborative approach? What are the property tax implications?
The "collaboration" functions of land bank depend in part on the underlying legal structure that is used to create the land bank in the first instances. In most jurisdictions land banks are created at the county level because that is where the power of property tax collection resides. With an initial base at the county, then municipalites elect to collaborate in various ways. The Genesee Land Bank (Flint, MI), the Cuyahoga County Land Reutlization Corporation (Cleveland, OH) and the Atlanta/Fulton County Land Bank (Atlanta, GA) are all exploring increasing ways to collaborate with additional municipalities in the county. Also under consideration is the possibility of cross-county collaboration (via interlocal agreements) in the structuring of the land bank operations. You are correct in that the property tax implications must be addressed up front in the interlocal agreement, but that is usually a straightforward issue that can be handled without too much difficulty.
How long does it usually take to bring a property back to productive use through a land bank as compared with just letting the market take its course?
It depends on the specific property, the nature of the barriers that prevented market demand in the first place, the economic conditions of the community, and the priorities of the land bank. Some land banks specialize in quick "turn-arounds" of properties -- acquiring the property and reconveying it to a new end-user within days or weeks. Other land banks, particularly those that acquire large volumes of properties throught the tax foreclosure process, will carefully inventory the properties and then divide them into categories such as (a) available for immediate transfer and reuse, (b) available for transfer after some degree of rehab or cleaning, (c) demolition, cleaning, and holding for an intermediate period (6 to 18 months), and long term holding (24 months or longer).

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