What are the procedures for buying a city-owned property? How can the process be made more transparent?
The Newburgh City Council poked at these questions last Thursday at their work session, during a presentation by City Planner Alexandra Church.
On the city’s website are properties acquired through tax foreclosure and are now offered for sale. Church said there are several methods for disposing of these properties. One is a direct sale through a Private Owner Development Application (PODA).
Often in auctions, properties were sold to people who may have never seen them and often did not have the capacity to fix them, Church explained. They were often left with a building they could not restore and they could not live in. These properties often end up back on the city list, rather than return to the tax roll.
“This has been a big problem,” said Councilwoman Patty Sofokles. “Fifteen, twenty years ago, when they were auctioning off the property. Anyone could come up with $5,000 to purchase the properties but then they reverted to the city.”
Now the city requires all purchases to fill out a PODA. It includes the offer price but also renovations plans including cost estimates and proof of funds, plus any experiences - owner or contractor who will be working on the property.
“We want to make sure you are as prepared as possible going into the purchase,” Church said.
In 2018, the department decided the process wasn’t the most efficient for those properties of higher value. These buildings that safe enough to permit access. River Realty of New Windsor was chosen to market these properties.
By the end of the year, Church said, the city will have a formal disposition policy for its properties. It will include a point system for applicants. Points, for example, would be awarded to city residents, city employees and for owner-occupied properties.
Councilman Anthony Grice warned that not all money is good money.
“We need not just the best price but the best use for the property,” Grice said. “I am especially excited about the point system. I think that gives our residents an even bigger advantage.”
Councilwoman Karen Meija asked if the city could help prospective property owners partner with banks to make home purchasing a reality.
“What kind of incentive can we provide?” she asked.
Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde agreed.
“The amount of money that you have to invest…,” Monteverde said, “It’s a lot of money to restore these old homes. I think it’s important that people do understand that.”
For a list of properties available, visit the city’s website: cityofnewburgh-ny.gov.