Properties FAQ

How do I purchase publicly-owned property in Detroit?

The best way to start the process of applying to purchase publicly-owned property is by filling out an application here. The same application form is used by both the City of Detroit and the Detroit Land Bank Authority. You may apply to purchase any property owned by the City or the DLBA, even if it is not marketed for sale.

More information about public ownership, available inventory, and the application and purchasing process is available here.

What should I do if I want to lease property or temporarily use or maintain a property?

To apply to lease a property or to propose another temporary use, please apply using the Property Application Form and describe the length of the lease or temporary use in the “Proposed Use” section.

To lease City-owned property, applicants must be registered with the City of Detroit for personal property tax and withholding tax purposes.  Additionally, applicants must provide: 

• Income tax clearance
• Accounts receivable clearance
• Supplier application form
• Covenant of Equal Opportunity (HR Clearance)
• Affidavit of Disclosure of Interests by Contractors and Vendors

These forms are available here


Who makes decisions about the disposition of publicly-owned property in Detroit?

Recommendations related to the disposition of property owned by the City of Detroit are made by the City’s leadership from departments, agencies, and organizations including the Mayor’s Office (Jobs & Economy Team), the Housing and Revitalization Department, the Planning and Development Department, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the City Law Department, the Detroit Building Authority, the DLBA, and the Department of Neighborhoods.

The Detroit City Council makes final decisions regarding the disposition of City-owned property. The City’s goal is to place the publicly-owned property back in the hands of responsible private citizens and organizations by disposing of publicly-owned property in a transparent, fair, and efficient manner.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority Board of Directors is responsible for decisions about the disposition of property owned by the DLBA.


What criteria does the City use to evaluate applications?

The City agencies that review applications consider many factors in making recommendations for the sale of property, including the following:

  • Applicant has proposed a use consistent with City objectives
  • Intended use is consistent with current zoning or property could reasonably be rezoned
  • Intended use is not considered noxious
  • Offer price is competitive
  • Applicant owns the adjacent property and is an owner in good standing


How long does the sales process take?

For simple transactions, the sales process often takes four months from time of application until close. This includes review of the application, negotiation, receiving necessary approvals from City Council, and closing. Larger scale projects and more complicated transactions often take longer to complete.

Do I need to do anything before I apply to purchase property?

Before applying to purchase property, please be sure that you or the organization you represent have no outstanding personal or corporate income taxes, property taxes (check here),  or blight violations (check here). If you are proposing a ground-up development or extensive structural rehabilitation, please provide at least a conceptual plan identifying the proposed use of the property, the scope of work, estimated costs and financing sources, and prior experience with similar developments. These additional documents can be digitally uploaded when filling out the Property Application Form.

How do I know if property is publicly owned?

Before applying to purchase a property, please research its ownership status. Information maintained at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office regarding ownership is available online. Additionally, the Detroit Properties search map includes an interactive map of the City that provides property ownership information from the Assessor’s Office. You can submit the same application form regardless of whether the property is owned by the City or the DLBA.

How is property marketed and priced?

Property located in strategic areas, or properties that the City expects will be in high demand or receive more than one bid, are generally publicly marketed on the City’s real estate marketing website or packaged as part of a Request for Proposals (RFP). During the public marketing or RFP process, representatives from various City departments will make disposition recommendations to City Council based on criteria including the offered purchase price, the use proposed, and the determined capacity of the potential purchaser. Individuals or organizations can also apply to purchase property that is in public ownership but not currently being marketed using the Property Application.

To help rebuild property values in the city, encourage the development of a healthy real estate market, and promote fairness and transparency, all property is generally sold at market value. When applying to purchase property, please bid a competitive rate. Extremely low offers that are below market value will generally not be accepted. Credits are sometimes provided for adjacent property owners, property sales that will encourage job growth or provide affordable housing, and for local non-profit organizations.

What is the Community Partner Program?

The DLBA created the Community Partner Program to encourage faith and community-based organizations to help stabilize and transform their neighborhoods. Previously-approved Community Partners interested in purchasing DLBA-owned property should use the Property Application and indicate their status as a Community Partner. To learn more about the Community Partner Program and to apply to become a Community Partner, visit the DLBA's website.

What if my plans for the property do not comply with zoning?

You are strongly encouraged to review the zoning requirements for the property you are interested in purchasing. To determine the zoning classification for the property you are interested in purchasing, refer to the zoning map index. You will then be able to use the zoning portal tool to confirm which uses are permitted at that property. Generally, the City does not sell property if the proposed use does not comply with the zoning code. However, if you think that your proposed use of the property is a good fit for the location despite possible nonconformance with the zoning code, please apply using the Property Application and note the potential zoning issue. Proper zoning approvals for the proposed use will need to be in place prior to closing.

What if I have concerns about the condition of the property?

All property is sold as-is. There is no representation about the condition of the property. Buyers are encouraged to perform all necessary due diligence and investigation prior to closing.

What kind of property is being offered for sale?

The City is offering residential properties, commercial buildings and vacant land, and industrial/warehouse buildings. Individuals interested in these properties can apply to purchase them using the Property Application. Single-family homes and residential side lots are generally sold by the DLBA.

How do I pay for property?

For commercial property, if approved by the City and a price agreed upon, an earnest money deposit of ten percent (10%) of the purchase price is to be paid in certified funds to the Detroit Building Authority at the time of the purchase agreement. The balance of the purchase price is due at closing either by wire transfer, certified funds, or cashier check.

What sort of deed is issued by the city?

The city offers a Quit Claim Deed. The city does not offer any warranty, or title insurance, nor does it claim that title insurance companies will insure such parcels.

What should I do if publicly-owned land is owned by another entity?

If you are interested in purchasing property owned by the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority, please visit their website
If you are interested in purchasing a property from Wayne County or at the Wayne County tax auction, please visit the Wayne County Treasurer website

What incentives or support are available from the City?

Check out the financing resources page here, in order to learn more about available tax incentives and public subsidies.

What is a Land-Based Project and how can I pursue one?

A land-based project uses land for urban agriculture, gardening, beautification, and other productive uses, whether for-profit or as a community-based activity. Learn more about Land-Based Projects and how to successfully complete one here.


What are the Targeted Multifamily Housing Areas?

The 2016 Targeted Multifamily Housing Areas map identifies areas of the city with stronger housing markets and active commercial corridors. It is the City's policy to prioritize investment in these areas, where increasing residential density will promote walkable urban neighborhoods with access to services, transit, and employment. Developers of both market-rate and affordable housing, whether standalone or as part of a mixed-use development, are encouraged to focus in these areas.

The map is intended to ensure affordable housing preservation and development occurs in areas of the city that are experiencing growth/investment. Therefore, these target areas may change as neighborhood/market conditions in the city evolve.


What if I have other questions?

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the Detroit Building Authority at