City sells foreclosed homes already marked for demolition

All week, News10NBC has been investigating problem homes in our community. Houses that the city wants to tear down are being sold at auctions run by Monroe County and the City of Rochester.

Tonight, News10NBC found another home that was sold when it was already marked for demolition.

The city makes it clear to bidders that they are buying a home on the demolition list. But our question is: why are you selling those homes in the first place?

"If you can see here, I went in and totally trashed out the whole place," said Jimmie Briggs as he gave me a tour of the house he bought at a city foreclosure auction in November.Briggs paid $4,400 for the home at 580 Hudson Avenue which covered all the back taxes.
Briggs got the deed on February 2nd and started to make repairs. He thought he could turn it into a home for he and his wife. But then a city inspector showed up.

Jimmie Briggs, sold a house marked for demolition: He explains to me that this property is slated for demolition and there's nothing that I can do to re-procure the property and I can't get my money back.
The exact same thing happened to Will Turner after he bought a house at the Monroe County foreclose auction last September. Turner bought 90 Watkin Terrace for $1,640 which covered the outstanding county properties taxes. When he was working on the home, he says another city inspector told him to stop because the house was marked for demolition.

So I've been going through the list of hundreds of foreclosed properties sold by the county and the city. Out of 512 properties on the county list, 18 are demolition homes. Out of 367 on the city list, 6 are demolition homes.
Brean: I still can't figure out why the city even sells homes that are going to be demolished.
Tim Curtin, Attorney, City of Rochester: Well I think the city sells them because there's an interest for the taxpayers. Number one we have to get them off the tax rolls in some fashion.
The money collected at the city and county foreclosure auctions goes into the general funds of the city and county.
City Attorney Tim Curtin says each bidder, including Jimmie Briggs, signed an agreement at the auction saying they know the house they just bought was subject to demolition

Brean: As the owner of that property he's going to get billed the cost of the demolition?
Tim Curtin, Attorney, City of Rochester: It would be added to the taxes, yes.
Brean: I don't think he believed that was true.
Curtin: Well he was told that and he signed a certificate that says he received these instructions.
Tim Curtin, Attorney, City of Rochester: I'm not sure what more we could have done in that situation.
Brean: Not sell a house that's going to be torn down in the first place.
Curtin: Well we can't get behind people's motivations. If it's an important piece of property, if it's a piece of property undergoing development it's really not our call. It's his discretion to invest in the property.
Depending on the amount of asbestos, the cost of demolishing a home in the city is around $15,000.
Even though he was told by a city inspector to stop working on this house because it's going to be torn down, the city sent Jimmie Briggs a letter outlining all the property violations that he has to repair. The letter titled "Notice and Order Violations" warns Briggs that if he doesn't fix the violations in 21 days he will be fined $600 per violation.

I brought this to the attention of Mr. Curtin. "It's not a perfect process. and we have two areas of city government with overlapping jurisdiction," Curtin said. "He will not be fined for that property. If we demolish the property I will be sure those fines are alleviated."

The foreclosure lists for the 2018 auctions are being formed now. The Monroe County Legislature votes to approve the list of properties at its meeting in March. The Rochester City Council votes to approve the city list in April.

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