Brick + Beam Detroit

Recap: So you want to save a house?

On Jan. 27, we convened a panel of really smart people to talk about what your options are when you want to save a property in your neighborhood. How do you determine who owns it, and whether or not it might be available to purchase? What are the legal risks you should think about if you want to board it up or trim the bushes? Who should you call (and how often do you need to call them) if you see a demolition notice on a house you don't think should be demolished? 

Our panelists — Dexter Slusarski from Loveland Technologies, Dan Cousino from Honigman, and Claire Nowak-Boyd, an urban planner and experienced house-saver — shared some helpful tips: 

  • Use a tool like Why Don't We Own This? to trace ownership — but back it up with more analog sleuthing strategies, like talking to the neighbors to see if they know what's up with a property you have your eye on. (You can view Dexter's full presentation here.) 
  • Be relentless! Claire called and called and called again to convince the Detroit Land Bank Authority not to demolish a cute home on her block. Then she made her own flyers to market properties up for auction on her street. 
  • "Whatever you do, do it thoughtfully," said Dan the lawyer. While it's true that anything you do to a vacant property could technically be considered trespassing — but "anything you do that's positive," like a board-up, mowing the grass, or planting flowers, is "probably okay."
  • If you can find an existing mortgage on a blighted property, contact the lender! Sometimes banks have clean-up task forces to help protect their collateral. 

We had some technical difficulties with the video for our panelists' brief presentations, but we did manage to record the discussion and Q&A that followed:  

Some related resources that may be helpful to you in your quest to save a house or intervene on a vacant property: 

The event was held January 27, 2016 and presented by Brick + Beam Detroit, in partnership with Live6. Turnout was huge, so we may consider a follow-up event on a similar theme in the future! (Let us know if that would help you and what you'd like to get out of a future event by dropping us an email.)

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