Auction reveals demand for vacant lots in New Orleans

Last month, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) held a public auction of 94 abandoned parcels – some entirely vacant, some with houses still standing.  Strong interest in the auction—537 bidders registered and 94 bids were accepted—led commentators, including Roberta Brandes Gratz, to question whether distressed cities are underestimating existing demand for these properties from individual homebuyers.  And the particularly strong interest in parcels with vacant houses may challenge the widely-held view that demolition is necessarily the best solution for blighted properties.  Of course, it is too early to judge the eventual impact of the auction.  In coming months, city officials will be watching closely to see how many of the bidders successfully close on their properties and how many are able to afford the necessary rehab within the one-year time limit NORA has set for significant remodeling.  As NORA gears up for additional auctions in coming months, other cities combating high levels of vacancy may want to keep an eye on this approach.

Photo Credit:  Flickr user  ~MV1~

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