clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How to buy vacant property from Philly for $1

New, 2 comments

It has to be located next to your own property, for starters

In some cases, the Philadelphia Land Bank will sell a vacant lot to you for $1.
Courtesy of Flickr/Jukie Bot

After officially opening for business in 2015, the Philadelphia Land Bank is slowly but surely acquiring the thousands of vacant and tax-delinquent properties scattered throughout in the city. The redevelopment tool has a lofty job: At last count, there were more than 40,000 vacant lots in Philly.

What does that mean for you? It means that if you live next to a vacant lot, you could potentially acquire it for as little as $1. Here’s how:

The requirements

  1. The vacant lot must share a border with your home on the side or back. (Buildings do not qualify.)
  2. The property’s value must be less than $75,000. (If the home values near the property are above $75,000, the property probably isn’t available for a side yard, unless the next-door owner has lived there for seven years.

The process

  1. Sign up for the Philadelphia Land Bank to look up the stats on the vacant property next to your home. After making sure the property meets the above criteria, submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and outline your proposal for the lot and how you plan to finance it.
  2. You’ll also be asked to fill out a Tax Status & Disclosure form, so that the city can ensure you don't have any liens on any of your current properties, and that you've never been involved in a crime-related foreclosure.
  3. Assuming the property meets all of the requirements as a side yard, you will not have to pay more than a nominal amount, plus closing costs. Previously, there was a sliding scale depending on the property’s value. That’s no longer the case, according to the city.

The aftermath

Once you buy the property for $1 (give or take), you’ll have to pay closing costs. These could cost $1,000 or more and are based on the entire value of the property, not the reduced amount.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from previous versions with new information provided by the Philadelphia Land Bank.