LANSING — State Senate Democratic Floor Leader Tupac A. Hunter last week announced the launch of a new Web site, www.saveMIneighborhood.com.
Hunter says the Web site invites Michigan homeowners to share their foreclosure stories and keep them informed on Hunter’s efforts to reform tax foreclosure auctions, help homeowners facing foreclosure and combat mortgage fraud.
“Residents who are facing foreclosure themselves or have seen the fallout it has had on our neighborhoods need to know someone is fighting for them, and this Web site will provide them with the assistance and information they need,” said Hunter, Minority Vice Chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.
“SaveMINeighborhood.com outlines my legislative efforts to help keep people in their homes, stabilize our neighborhoods and protect our property values, offers resources to those who are facing foreclosure, and urges all concerned homeowners to share their personal stories and get involved in the fight against foreclosure.”
Counties in Michigan currently hold two tax foreclosure auctions annually. At the second auction, land speculators can purchase properties for as little as $500 without having to pay any back taxes. Many problems have arisen with this process as efforts to help struggling homeowners and encourage investment in community properties are undermined by land speculators who are gaming the system.
Hunter has introduced a package of bills aimed at reforming tax foreclosure auctions and curbing the fraudulent practices of land speculators in the state. Senate Bill 42 would allow for these tax foreclosed properties to be transferred to a land bank before being sold off in a second auction (often for a minimum bid as low as $500). Senate Bill 571 would require anyone wanting to participate in a second county auction to pre-register with the county 14 days ahead of time. This bill would also close a loophole that currently allows land speculators to let their properties fall into foreclosure and then buy them back at second auction to avoid paying back taxes. Senate Bill 572 would ban property owners who owe back taxes or blight fines from participating in county-sponsored land auctions.
Two weeks ago, Wayne County began the process of auctioning off more than 14,000 properties at their annual tax foreclosure auction. According to news reports, 11 buyers have bought 24 percent of tax-auctioned parcels in Wayne County since 2002 and the percentage of Wayne County tax foreclosure auction purchases from out-of-state buyers has nearly quadrupled from 2008 to 2010. In Flint, one investment company from Illinois purchased 58 houses in a foreclosure auction for a total of $23,350 only to resell them on eBay. Research has indicated that 200 out of 3,700 Detroit properties sold at last year’s tax foreclosure auctions appear to have been bought back by their owners, including one landowner who owed $131,800 back taxes on seven foreclosed rental properties that he was able to buy back at auction for $4,051. Last year, it is believed that this loophole cost Detroit alone $1.8 million in uncollected taxes.
Hunter represents the 5th District, which is comprised of Northwest Detroit, Dearborn Heights and Inkster. He serves as the Minority Floor Leader. He is the Minority Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking & Financial Institutions and the Senate Committee on Economic Development. He is a member of the Senate Government Operations Committee.