NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - For the first time ever, the City of New Orleans is set to auction off 3,000 properties online. It's an effort to get rid of blighted homes and vacant lots.
Driving around New Orleans, it's pretty common to see blights homes and overgrown, unkempt lots.
City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell says, "Blighted properties city-wide, we still have approximately 30,000 of them."
This summer, the city is making it a whole lot easier to purchase such a lot, by auctioning off tax adjudicated properties online. The properties will be posted on a website, starting next month, so potential buyers can check out the specs.
A property is adjudicated to the city when its property taxes have not been paid. Instead of the property going up for auction at a sheriff's sale, where the buyer would incur the back taxes, the taxes for the properties in this auction, have essentially been waived.
Real estate economist Wade Ragas says, "I think it's a wonderful opportunity and they're likely to get good prices."
Ragas says the practice is done in many neighboring parishes. A major benefit to this type of auction, is that buyers also don't have to wait five years in order to get a clear title, which is the case with a sheriff's sale. "What they're doing now is much more streamlined," Ragas said.
Cantrell helped come up with the idea. She's passionate about spurring growth and transforming blight in her district. "It's important to bring these properties back into commerce to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods across our city," Cantrell said.
Patricia Gay at the Preservation Resource Center is also a big fan of the plan. She just warns potential buyers to check with the PRC to see if a property is considered historical before making a bid. "I don't think the information is listed with the property," Gay said.
If a property is deemed historical, Gay explains, tearing it down to build something new may not be a reality. "You would not be able to get your demolition permit without going through the review process of the Historic District Landmarks Commission," Gay said.
That issue aside, Gay agrees this is a phenomenal opportunity to clean up New Orleans, and one that should help put a dent in the amount of blight.
The 3,000 properties will be posted online on March 6th. The auction will take place in July. That's the earliest it can be done because legally, the owners of the properties have three months once the process starts to pay their back taxes in order to save their property from being auctioned off.