By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Local real estate agents are hoping to avoid being bitten by the “teeth” put into a new ordinance restricting abandoned houses.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, representatives from the Down River Association of Realtors brought up concerns about the ordinance, which would attach $150 registration fees to structures left vacant for 28 days. The ordinance, which was first read March 28, also attaches fines of $500 to owners who fail to register their properties. Mayor Joseph Peterson called the fines the “teeth” of the ordinance that would curb the rash of abandoned properties in the city.
DRAR Vice President Jerry Bobbitt asked the council to exclude pending sales from the ordinance, saying the added costs were not agreed upon by the seller or buyer at the time of the sale and could be a deal breaker for some buyers.
Bobbitt proposed sending a list of pending houses to the council in the hopes they could be grandfathered into the ordinance. He disagreed with City Attorney William Look’s assertion that pending sales were by definition excluded from the ordinance, which defines abandoned structures as those left uninhabited for 28 days and meeting one of 11 other conditions, including utilities that have been disconnected for six months and a lack of property maintenance.
He said many bank-owned foreclosed houses can have sales pending for six to nine months and usually can meet both of those conditions.
“Our real estate industry is having some issues,” Bobbit said, “and every little hiccup can cause a huge problem.”
Woodhaven and Rockwood have passed similar ordinances but grandfathered in pending sales at the request of the association, Bobbit said.
DRAR Chief Executive Officer Elaine Adkins said Rockwood excluded eight pending properties, while Woodhaven excluded 48. She estimated Wyandotte’s pending properties would fall within that range.
Councilors suggested excluding only pending sales for a period of 60 days. Councilman Todd Browning said he would only consider excluding pending sales from the ordinance if the council agreed upon a time limit.
“Six months can turn into 12 months and then we’re right back to the problems we’ve discussed up here for months,” Browning said.
The ordinance was read a second time and passed at the meeting.
Bobbitt agreed to send a list of pending sales to the council so members can consider placing a moratorium on those properties next week.