One of America’s Oldest Cities Wants to Sell You a Home for $1

Baltimore, Maryland, is offering the deal of a lifetime by letting individuals buy a home for $1. Currently, the local government owns hundreds of vacant properties, and a recently approved program would allow it to off-load them to residents at a steep discount. The city’s Board of Estimates, which includes five voting members—the mayor, the president of the city council, the comptroller, the city solicitor, and the director of public works—voted in March to authorize a new pricing structure for government-owned vacant homes, approving the plan 4-1. City council president Nick Mosby was the only dissent.

Part of an initiative called BuyIntoBmore, the recently approved pricing structure is part of the plan’s fixed pricing program. Through this, individuals who plan to use the property as their primary residence as well as community land trusts can buy a home for just $1. Nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees could purchase a vacant home for $1,000, while those with more than 50 employees or developers would pay $3,000.

Group of vacant houses in Baltimore Marylan

Vacant row houses in Baltimore

Photo: Kevin B. Moore/Getty Images

To qualify for the $1 homes, buyers have to commit to restoring the residence and have at least $90,000 to do so. Interested applicants were able to begin submitting applications on April 1, which are being processed on a rolling basis. “Properties will be awarded once an applicant successfully passes the vetting process. If there are multiple applications for the same property and all applicants successfully pass the vetting process, applications will be reviewed by order of submission,” the city’s Department of Housing & Community Development explains.

Though Mosby, the city council president, did propose a version of a $1 housing program, he voted against the legislation in March because he didn’t feel this plan adequately prioritized current Baltimore residents. Additionally, he worried that people with lower incomes would be pushed out of communities as nearby homes are bought and renovated.

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