AKRON, Ohio– Adeline Miller rents a home on Larkin Avenue in Akron but says she wouldn’t hesitate to buy one in the neighborhood.
“It’s a nice area. You have got the park over there, you know, it’s quiet; nobody bothers anybody. My kids come out, ride bikes, play; there’s no trouble,” said Miller.
She had no idea the house right next door was available for just one dollar.
“I had no idea nothing was going on until one day somebody popped up on the porch and said, ‘Hey, did you know that house next door sold for a dollar?’ I said what the h.. I’ll give you two dollars,” said Miller.
The house had been vacant since the bank foreclosed on the previous owner in early 2016. It was sold at a sheriff’s auction on December 16 for a bid of just $1. The high bidder was Citizen’s Bank.
The home was the first to sell for that low of a price in Summit County under a state law intended to expedite the sale of vacant homes so they don’t sit empty for years and fall apart or become targets for thieves.
House Bill 390 became law in September. Known as the Foreclosure Fast Track Bill its intent is to get homes for sale within as little as 75 days of when they become vacant.
The first time the home goes up for auction the law requires a minimum bid of 2/3 of the home’s value but if it isn’t sold there is no minimum bid requirement for a second sale, allowing the house to be auctioned for as little as $1.
“I see it as a plus. It will get fixed up. It will get rented faster,” said Margaret Grantham who also lives on Larkin Avenue.
“If this was affordable for a real family to come in I encourage that; I embrace it,” said Sean Dixon who, along with his father, owns a house on the same street.
John Franks of Barberton was also able to get a home on Big Falls Avenue in Akron at a sheriff’s auction on December 30 for a bid of only one dollar.
But Franks cautions that the idea you can buy a house for just one dollar is a bit of a misconception.
“There are back taxes to pay; there are all the court costs, all the attorneys fees, all the recording fees, anything that’s related to the civil case, all the notices for court costs; anything involved has to be paid through that sale,” said Franks.
For the home he bought the total fees owed at the time of the sale were over $4,500, still reasonable for a house with a listed appraised value of $51,000.
By one estimate there are more than 80,000 vacant homes across the state of Ohio.
Previous foreclosure laws created an environment where many of them could sit empty for years.
Franks says the house he bought, and has since sold again, will soon be somebody’s home.
“I will tell you that probably within a month that thing will probably be swarming with workers and it will be probably rented out and somebody will be paying taxes and water bills and sewer bills. We need to be building and generating, not tearing down,” said Franks.