Pilot program helps Hennepin County try its hand at flipping houses

Hennepin County is trying its hand at flipping houses in an effort to reduce blighted properties.

As of March 2018, there were 40 residential tax forfeited properties in Hennepin County--nine of which were picked to be renovated and sold as part of a new pilot program.

“If we take that home and ensure that it’s rehabbed to the standard that it should be, then we know the community will end up with a product we all want,” said James Sorenson, senior property management specialist with Hennepin County.

Previously, tax forfeited homes were sold at auction “as is” but Sorenson said too often those properties never get fixed up and ultimately remain a problem for the neighborhood.

“With a regular auction … somebody could have plans to rehab it and never get around to it," said Sorenson. "Or they could rehab it to the level where we’re back in the property five years later because they didn’t pay their taxes or got in over their heads."

The homes picked for the pilot program were renovated using small business contractors based in the community where the homes are located. Many of these businesses are owned by people of color and/or women. 

“We felt this would give them some sense of pride and also, as an economic benefit, it would put money back in their community,” said Manager of Construction Procurement Gilbert Odonkor.

County owned remodels in Crystal, Golden Valley and Minneapolis are currently for sale. There are several open houses over the next couple of weeks, with bids being accepted through June 29.