(Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 06--Property can go for as low as $50 through the Shelby County Land Bank. But that hasn't stopped the bank from breaking its sales record for the third year in a row.
"We're actually selling more properties for more money," said Dawn Kinard, administrator of the Land Bank.
Sales have already topped $3.5 million for the 2014 fiscal year, topping last year's record three months before the end of the budget year, according to Kinard. Her predecessor attributed the success to Kinard's talents and the Great Recession, but Kinard credited a better process, outreach and her seven-member team.
"We really have come a long way," Kinard said. "But I always tell people I have the best support staff of anybody in the country."
The Shelby County Land Bank was created in 2007 as an avenue to find ownership for abandoned properties that didn't sell at county tax sales. It's a redevelopment tool popular around the nation in many forms that aims to reduce crime and combat lowered property values and the ripple effect vacant properties can have.
Once an owner is three years behind on property taxes, the county trustee can place it on the tax sale list. If no one purchases the property at the auction and the owner fails to pay the back taxes for the next 12 months, it is turned over to the Land Bank.
The Land Bank serves as a real estate agent for those properties, which are either sold to anyone or donated to an established nonprofit organization for a specific project.
Kinard, who grew up in a real estate development family, was appointed administrator in 2010. In fiscal year 2012, her team set its first record of sales, $1.42 million. For the 2013 fiscal year, sales were $2.8 million.
Sales could surpass $4 million before the end of this fiscal year, June 30. At least that's the new goal Kinard set for her team.
"Every time I set a new goal, they just look at me," Kinard said.
Tom Moss, administrator of Support Services and one of the Land Bank founders, said Kinard's experience in real estate has been instrumental to the Lank Bank's success over the past few years.
"She brought that to the table, and luckily, she's still got the energy that some of us old guys don't," Moss said
The first challenge Kinard faced after county Mayor Mark Luttrell appointed her was "you'd meet people who didn't even know what it (the Land Bank) was," she said. She launched a marketing campaign and joined with Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir's Real Estate Road Shows to help promote the Land Bank.
It has also "either been blessed or cursed by the economy," Moss said. The national recession and housing market crash meant more properties that were placed on the auction block and fewer that were picked up there. That has meant Kinard's team had more properties on the roster.
To reduce the number of properties that stay on the books for too many years, Kinard began a clearance list in 2012 of properties that have been in the Land Bank for more than five years. Those properties go for as low as $50. Typically, buyers with a vested interest in the property -- such as a neighbor -- will purchase the discounted property.
Other properties are listed for as high as $200,000.
A list and interactive map of the properties can be found at shelbycountytn.gov, along with the prices Kinard's team has set for each.
The next goal for the Land Bank will be to draw some developers to a collection of parcels for big redevelopment projects, Kinard and Moss said. Those projects would hopefully spur greater redevelopment in the area.
"We're not there yet, but we will be," Kinard said.
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