Vacant property here and there—it might be for sale. “So-and-so owns it,” you say to yourself and you want to buy it. All good, but slow your roll and do your homework because there might be unwanted baggage (property liens) that transfers with that property. A “lien” is a legal claim on property because of debt or other non-monetary interest that transfers from one owner to owner. Early in the year we pursued a nearby property that had a lien because of unpaid taxes.
Over-the-Rhine Community Housing has been an early supporter of Start Small and agreed to let us use their property on Peete St. OTRCH is a nonprofit developer that provides a wide spectrum of affordable housing options to assist low-income residents with a strong focus on community. After investigating and discussing different ownership scenarios, OTRCH generously agreed to sell each property for $1. The sale occurred under the condition Start Small sell one of our homes to a low-income household, following our mission.
But even with familiar parties, you know the transaction was not as easy as handing over two “Mr. Washingtons.” Through a title search of 144 Peete St. we discovered there was a restrictive covenant on the property, which is a binding legal agreement that limits what the owner can do with a property. The covenant is a remnant from a previously proposed project that never came to fruition.
The transaction took longer to complete as additional research was needed along with communication-time between agencies and partners to release the covenant. Even a now cut-and-dry transaction like this requires stacks of paperwork approved by a licensed attorney. After signing the necessary documents, ownership of the Peete St. properties are now in the hands of Start Small. Although the lots are tiny, we hope the proposed construction will have an immense impact on the neighborhood and development of affordable housing regionally. Now that we own the property, the homes are officially for sale!