WARNING**Even great condition properties need demo list check**

I just wanted to write a quick note to potentially help others avoid the devastating situation we found ourselves in last night. I went by yesterday to check the two family home we won in October, and found it demoed.

The house was in excellent condition and we planned on working on it all winter, then moving in mid-Spring. We still do not have any of our deeds, and were of the belief that we should not board the house up until deed was in hand. We now really regret not doing that sooner, as the house is now a pile of rubble (one which I'm hearing we now may be billed for...)

There were no physical signs of a pending demo. No signs of contractors. The house had a new roof, sound basement, more than half the windows were still intact. I've been going by twice per week since the auction close to keep an eye on the house, and make checklists for items we needed to purchase to begin rehab, measure, etc. As buyers there seems to be a lot of responsibility dumped on us the minute we pay for the property, while we get no rights to the property until the deed arrives. Or at least this is my understanding after reading some of the legalese we failed to comprehend earlier.

We did not do our "due diligence," so I guess we deserve this. The property was in great condition, so it never occurred to us that it would be on any demo list. I also don't write to countries I've never been to in order to check for outstanding warrants. It just makes no sense to.

But this is Detroit. You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now...

Anyway, hindsight is 20-20. Hoping this post will help others. Please, even if your house is ready to go, check to be sure it's not on the demo list. How? I'm not quite sure. I hear it requires a trip downtown.

This is some info from the defer demolition application that might help people understand how loose the requirements are for being deemed a dangerous house:

"Your building was determined to be dangerous. To set aside the Order To Demolish you must remedy this dangerous situation, which may include correcting one or more of the following conditions prior to an inspection by BSE&ED:
• Open at door or window to invite trespass or exposure to elements;
• Attractive nuisance to children, vagrants, criminals or immoral persons;
• Dilapidated, deteriorated or damaged to the point of collapse or creating unsanitary or unfit conditions or structurally unsound or unstable.

Effective November, 1998, a building (commercial or residential) could be deemed Dangerous if it is:
• Vacant for 180 days (6 months) or longer,
• Not listed with a real estate broker for sale, lease or rent, and
• Not maintained on the exterior in accordance with the City's codes. After a deferral has been granted, if conditions change so that a dangerous condition is present(including vacancy in excess of 180 days),the building may be demolished without further action by City Council."

We believed we were not to touch the house til we had a deed, and therefore no legal way to remedy the "dangerous conditions" of missing/broken windows/doors. Also, it seems you cannot apply for a deferment of demo until you have proper proof of ownership...as in the deed.

I'm sure there will now be a bunch of people informing us of what idiots we are, just like on facebook. I'm prepared for more blame, just hoping we can help out other people so they don't go through this horrific disappointment and drama. It looks like it's a pretty expensive and stressful process to get off that demo list anyway, if at all possible with no deed.

Now to decide what to do next. I guess we are now responsible for cleaning up the rubble, which will take us about 4 weeks of full time work and way more money than we possess. We also purchased the piece of vacant land next to the house and planned to put in another community garden there. That won't be happening now.

Now time for me to go back to the box of shame,

Posted by kristine, 5 replies, last post 8 months ago

Sean Fitzpatrick:

Any update on this??

August 19, 2013

I certainly would like to know how that scenario can be avoided. Other than the Michigan Land Bank, what public agencies have authority to issue demolish orders? If a previous owner has a demolish order on the house, is it required to be filed at Register Of Deeds?

August 11, 2013
Anthony Gross:

Hi, I find this truly shocking, the whole point of the auction is that the properties have been cleared of liabilities/from demo lists etc - don't normal agent searches reveal these things? Of course it would be hard to search for every property one was interested in in auction...

July 26, 2013
Matt Hampel :

That really sucks. The information needs to be out there. From what I gather, it probably was the State Land Bank or another program from the Governor's office that had your house demoed. No idea who to talk to there but I'm trying to figure out. Here's one page that could be a starting point: http://www.michigan.gov/landbank/0,3190,7-298-62711---,00.html

December 7, 2012
Jerry Paffendorf:

thanks for sharing your story, kristine, and terribly sorry that happened. this is a clear case of different databases about detroit land not working together, and why they need to (if an auction building is on the demolition list, it should at least be noted). we'll try to find and show the demolition list if we can get it (seems like that should be very public information). please follow-up and share more when details become clearer (who exactly tour it down? what happens next?) and if you're having any work days people might like to help with.

attaching a before and after picture of the house that kristine posted online, with her permission.

December 7, 2012
Please sign in or make an account to write comments.