New Ramsey County Program Prepares Vacant Homes for First Time Owners

Though a lot of attention is paid to foreclosures and vacant homes in cities, suburbs can have high rates of both. With 3,000 foreclosed properties in Ramsey County last year and horror stories of rundown homes affecting area neighborhoods, a new foreclosure program is taking aim at the county's suburbs. 25 foreclosed houses in Maplewood MN and Little Canada are going to get some work done, a face lift, and the chance to be a home again.

First time home buyers do not want to deal with homes that have a lot of problems or need a lot of fixing up.  Especially since there are many perfectly good homes on the market without damage.  The Ramsey County HRA has been working to find a model to make these suburban homes more marketable. A $350,000 federal grant, plus another $1.3 million in federal stimulus dollars, is about to make that happen. The funds will be used by Ramsey County to rehab rundown homes, with the investment balanced against the price a first-time home buyer would be willing to pay.

The results is that first time home buyers are getting into fixed-up homes, neighborhoods are being stabilized, and communities are looking more appealing, which may draw even more residents. Here's how it will work:

The county will work with a developer or other intermediary to help them locate and purchase a home. The developer will hold the title to the property, but the county will hold the mortgage.

The county will pay for the repairs to make the home more marketable to first-time home buyers. In the case of the Larpenteur Avenue rambler, that meant upgrades to the plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling systems, as well as new carpets, freshly painted walls and a newly sided garage.


When a buyer steps forward, the developer gets 5 percent of the sales price for the work. Any leftover profit gets sent back to the foreclosure fund to be used for the next home.

Brooklyn Park MN is using a similar approach to fix up its most troublesome properties. 11 houses have been renovated so far, but Brooklyn Park expects 30 to 50 foreclosed homes to be repaired in this manner over the next year and a half.

Ramsey County is too new to the process to make predictions about the speed of sales, but the pilot project will be monitored very closely to see what works best for the area.

For more information on the Ramsey County's Foreclosure Remediation Project, go to The county will post information on it this week.

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