What to Know Before Buying a House in Need of Renovation

Buying an older property in need of TLC can be a good investment for savvy DIYers

Buy a house to renovate for as little as $5,000 depending on the location! The idea of buying an existing property and renovating it into your dream home or investment property is appealing to many people these days. The Cuyahoga Land Bank sells properties in need of renovation to qualified owner-occupants and professional rehabilitation contractor/investors. Our innovative renovation programs make buying a fixer-upper an easy-to-follow process.

Deed-in-Escrow Program

The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s Deed-in-Escrow Program allows a qualified owner-occupant or investor to buy a home for a modest purchase price based on an agreement to make certain renovations to the property, typically within four months. Our staff first works collaboratively with the buyer to create a realistic written renovation plan (“the spec”) that meet a set of establishedHousing Quality Standards. Once a purchaser enters into an agreement with the Land Bank, the title/deed to the home is then held in escrow until the renovations are completed.

All costs associated with labor, material, supplies, etc., are the sole financial responsibility of the purchaser. The purchaser must pull all necessary permits, resolve any municipal Point of Sale violations, and complete renovations according to the pre-agreed renovation spec. The Land Bank performs monthly inspections during the renovation period to ensure progress is being made and that renovations will be completed as scheduled. Renovations are deemed complete when the applicable municipality issues an official Certificate of Occupancy or when all necessary permits are officially closed by the municipality. Upon completion, the purchaser will pay the escrow agent the contract purchase price, other costs listed in the purchase agreement and closing fees and then the deed will be released from escrow and the ownership transferred to the purchaser.

If renovations are not completed within the agreed to time frame, the title will be retained by the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and the potential purchaser will forfeit the money that they have invested into the renovation.

Deed-in-Escrow Owner-Occupant Improvement Plus Program

The Deed-in-Escrow Owner-Occupant Improvement Plus Program is an initiative developed by the Cuyahoga Land Bank to assist owner-occupant buyers in successfully renovating homes to live in. Assistance is available exclusively to owner-occupant buyers, which is defined as a person who resides in the property as their principal residence for no less than three years. For certain eligible properties, the Cuyahoga Land Bank will make substantial improvements to the home by directly engaging certain pre-qualified contractor(s) selected by the Cuyahoga Land Bank to perform the relevant work. For each eligible property, the buyer will be able to see in advance which trades will be covered by the assistance as reflected in the renovation specifications. Common items to be covered by the assistance, include major trades like HVAC replacement, electrical re-wiring, plumbing, and/or exterior work such as roofing, siding or asphalt. Cuyahoga Land Bank basic Terms and Conditions apply and may be subject to change.

This program is funded by the Cuyahoga County Housing Program.

Purchaser Eligibility Policy

To buy a house to renovate from the Cuyahoga Land Bank, the purchaser must:

  • not own any real property that is in material violation of state and local codes or has a history of code violations;
  • not own or be affiliated with any real property that has a history of harboring criminal activity during the purchaser’s ownership;
  • not own or be affiliated with any real property that is tax delinquent;
  • not have lost any title or had any foreclosure filings against any properties within the past three years;
  • agree to use the property consistent with current municipal zoning requirements;
  • agree to comply with all fair housing and market regulations;
  • reside in Cuyahoga County or, if a non-Cuyahoga resident, designate a local agent authorized to accept notices on behalf of the purchaser.

Ready to consider a renovation?

First, please review our Housing Quality Standards. Then, research the available properties listed here being sure to review the spec. Identify one or more properties you desire to inquire about and complete the Property Purchaser Application. Be sure to attach all required documentation. The Land Bank will then complete a background check and verify all information provided. A member of our staff will contact you within 14 business days to discuss your application, our process, and the properties of interest. Our staff can then schedule a property viewing for further assessment of the rehabilitation.

The Cuyahoga Land Bank reserves the right to change, modify or amend these policies, standards, and procedures at any time.

We currently do not have properties that meet these criteria. Check back soon, as our inventory changes often.