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How to Reclaim a Vacant House

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Breathing Lights was a temporary public art installation, held in October and November of 2016, in which the interiors of vacant houses in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York, were lit with lights that mimicked the rhythm of human breathing. Its purpose: to change people’s perceptions of vacant buildings and to bring attention to the need to revitalize these structures and their communities.

To help people in the communities see high vacancy as opportunity, cities that held the Breathing Lights exhibits also held building reclamation clinics. Open to the public, these one-day clinics took attendees through the steps from finding a vacant house, to financing a rehabilitation, and establishing end goals for the houses. Here, we’ve summarized their work into a step-by-step toolkit.

Learn more at http://savingplaces.org/stories/how-to-reclaim-a-vacant-house.

Published in: Real Estate
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How to Reclaim a Vacant House

  1. 1. 6 Tips to RECLAIM A VACANT HOUSE
  2. 2. 1. Consider what you would for a typical purchase. Delve into the neighborhood culture; proximity to work, school, and shopping; and current and future size of your household.
  3. 3. 2. Know what will need to be done for a rehab purchase. Ask questions: How much work will need to be done to make it habitable? How much cash will you need upfront? Can you live in the house while work is being done? What will the schedule for design, removals, approvals, and construction look like?
  4. 4. 3. Check out financial incentives. Owning a historic house qualifies you for several financial incentives that could significantly reduce your financial burden. Consult your State Historic Preservation Office, and look into grants your city offers.
  5. 5. 4. There will be a lot of people involved. Your “team” could include architects, engineers, contractors, real estate agents, home inspectors, historic preservation organizations, attorneys, accountants, and estimators.
  6. 6. 5. Attend a class. If this is the first property you’ve owned, or you want to reacquaint yourself with the financial or maintenance side, nonprofit housing organizations or housing development authorities offer classes in basic home ownership skills.
  7. 7. 6. Find a vacant property that fits your criteria. Look for Land Bank signs, For Sale signs, foreclosure notices, or building permits. Use the internet to find MLS listings and scout real estate websites like Zillow. Drive around neighborhoods. Check out bank foreclosure lists, and visit your City Assessors Office as well as city or county auctions.
  8. 8. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org. Photo credits: Breathing Lights.

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