KC Land Bank sells properties…but there’s a catch

Currently listed land bank properties.

Currently listed land bank properties.

When unloading more than 4,000 parcels of not prime property, there are obvious problems and other problems.

The demand for abandoned properties on the east side is weak but even agreed sales can be difficult, said Kansas City Land Bank director Ted Anderson.

The bank has about 115 pending sales that are being held up for one reason or another, he said, often because of title problems.

Title insurance companies are reluctant to approve sales under protocol used by Jackson County officials, he said.

The companies think county notification procedures in trying to reach former owners may not be strict enough to meet due process requirements under the U.S. constitution, Anderson reported Tuesday to the mayor and city manager.

Title insurance companies have to approve the sales for buyers to get a bank loan.

Land Bank officials are working on new deed wording and there are other measures possible, Anderson said.

“We might be able to start our own title insurance company,” he said. Also, the 2012 state law allowing the banks does let them use condemnation but maybe “we could condemn our own property just to clear title,” he said.

The Land Bank that started last year has not done much so far in the way of marketing, he said, partly because of its backlog of sold properties that are not officially sold.

But officials plan to approach neighborhood groups about working with them to put together vacant lots and houses for projects, he said.

Another option not yet explored is using vacant lots for dog parks, he said.

Anderson and Mayor Sly James also said they want to get private companies involved in projects that could range from demolition to developments.

The city has about 1,100 properties on its dangerous building list, for instance, and not enough money to make much headway on clearing them.

“While you’re demolishing one,” James said, “two others spring up like weeds.”

Other cities have made headway on the problem when private companies worked with government, he said.

City officials have approached some businesses in an attempt to get them involved, James said.

Leave a Comment