Obtaining title to a vacant property does not have to occur through a foreclosure. Sometimes the owner who has left the property will take steps themselves to sell the property for its full market value, a reduced price or will outright donate the property. The owner could also be an investor or an estate of a deceased homeowner looking for a way to get rid of the property. Many properties are abandoned, however, because the owner owes more than what the house is worth. In these cases, the only way to obtain title is to commence a foreclosure action.


After a successful foreclosure action, the bank will conduct an auction. If the house is not purchased by a third party at the auction, the bank will take title to the property. The lender’s Real Estate Owned (“REO”) department will actively market and sell bank-owned properties for the highest return. While desirable properties will sell quickly, other properties will continue to sit vacant while the bank waits for a buyer. Similarly, if title to the property has reverted to HUD, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, they also have divisions that will market these properties.

In the past, several lenders such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America have donated properties to local not-for-profit organizations. In addition, the National Community Stabilization Trust (“NCST”) acts as a clearing house for participating lenders. NCST offers non-profit organizations a first look at certain REO properties offered at a modest discount.


A number of national banks offer properties for sale through this program, but the numbers of homes sold in Monroe County through this program have been minimal to date. The gold standard for donations and sale programs in Rochester predates the recession and has been in place since 2001. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Asset Control Area (“ACA”) program sells single-family properties at a discount to the City of Rochester in designated areas that meet one of the following requirements: a very low income area; an area with a high concentration of default or foreclosed assets; or an area that has a low home ownership rate. ACA properties with an appraised value of $25,000 or less may be purchased from HUD for $100.


All other properties sold under the ACA program are offered for sale at a minimum discount of 50 percent of the appraised property value. These properties are then slated either for rehabilitation and resale to owner-occupants or for demolition. The donation or low-cost sale of vacant and abandoned properties to local not-for-profit agencies is an important tool in the fight to improve vacant and abandoned properties. The Task Force encourages lenders to increase the number of properties included in these programs.

The Task Force is currently working with the Not For Profit, Brightstar Community to find a donation home for their needs.  See more about this on our Bank Hub page! 



The Task Force is partnering with SONYMA, Flower City Habitat for Humanity and hundreds of volunteers to spruce up the Garson, Peck, 4th and Hayward Neighborhood located in South Marketview Heights.  Check out the video of the day!