St. Louis Is Selling More Than 500 Homes For $1 Each — Here’s How To Get One

By on February 7, 2019

From St. Louis Public Radio:  St. Louis has launched a pilot program to sell some 500 city-owned homes for just $1 a pop.

But that low cost comes with strings attached. Purchasers will have to invest in extensive renovations before they can move in to the homes, which have sat vacant for at least five years.

Here’s what you need to know about how to buy those homes, where they are located and what it takes to rehabilitate a property that has spent years deteriorating.

Not all city-owned homes are eligible

The city has placed 522 homes owned by its Land Reutilization Authority on its Dollar House program list. They’re all single-family homes smaller than 1,500 square feet. And they’ve all been owned by the LRA for at least five years.

How to buy one of the ‘Dollar Homes’

Buyers must inspect the property, make a renovation plan and budget, then apply to purchase it. An authority board reviews and approves applications. Within 120 days of buying the property, owners must stabilize the structure and improve its facade to meet city building codes. Buyers must renovate the property to a livable condition within 18 months, then live there for at least three years.

The authority holds a quitclaim deed — which allows it to reclaim the property — if the buyer fails to fulfill all requirements of the Dollar House program.

A spokesman for St. Louis Development Corporation, which oversees the Land Reutilization Authority, said that city officials will consider offering extensions for any rehabs that take longer than 18 months “case by case.”

Don’t expect a pristine house

These homes have sat vacant for years.

LRA-owned homes’ conditions range “from bad to worse,” said preservation expert Andrew Weil, executive director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis. The organization advocates for the preservation of historic buildings in the region.

Prospective buyers will see bad roofs, broken windows, rotten timbers, water damage and mold. Thieves may have scavenged metal like copper piping, gutters and roof flashing, Weil said. He recommends taking an architect or engineer to the inspections.

The LRA requires purchasers to hire licensed professionals to install electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.

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