In cities with neighborhoods which are suffering from high rates of vacancy, there have been programs developed to help stimulate the rehabilitation of homes and neighborhoods. Many cities have more than one program to fulfill the varied needs of a diverse buyers' pool.
In Baltimore, one such program is the Selling City Owned Property Efficiently (SCOPE) program. This is a program set up by the city of Baltimore to promote property restoration and occupancy. In this program, the city offers properties that it owns for a nominal fee based on square footage and the condition of the building.
Some SCOPE properties have stipulations incorporated in their sales. Some properties require that the buyer actually take occupancy of the rehabilitated property when it's finished, while others do not have such stipulation and may be rented. All of the contracts have the requirement that the property is to be complete and ready for occupants within 18 months of the sale closing. Anyone interested in looking at SCOPE listings must sign a Hold Harmless Right of Entry form to acknowledge the possible dangers which could be encountered in a home that has been vacant for possibly a long period.
SCOPE listings will include an estimated cost for rehabilitation. The city makes these estimates based on the condition of the building and what they think needs to be replaced. Be aware, that these are rough estimates and your repairs will certainly cost you more than the estimate.
In the years since the program's inception, many properties have been sold through the SCOPE program. As with any program to revitalize inner city neighborhoods however, the transition can only happen as quickly as new buyers become interested in investing in these projects. If you have the means to invest in one of these properties, talk to a qualified real estate agent to help you find an appropriate property listing.