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Buying A Category 2 Registered Vacant Building In Saint Paul

By In Vacant Buildings On December 1, 2009


Registered Vacant BuildingIf you’re in the market to buy a fixer-upper home in Saint Paul, there’s no need to be afraid of registered vacant buildings – at least not most of them.  There are three categories of registered vacant buildings – Category 1, 2, and 3.

Category 1 properties are pretty simple; the new owner simply needs to register or re-register ownership, pay any outstanding fees, and comply with any outstanding orders for legal occupancy.  You probably won’t be able to buy a category 3 property.  These properties are the worst of the worst, and the City of Saint Paul is demolishing most of these.  Category 2 properties are the focus of this blog.

Category 2 properties are condemned or have multiple housing violations.  If you want to buy one of these properties, you’ll need to complete the same requirements for Category 1 properties, and obtain approval from the City.  Here are the basic steps:

  • Contact the City to start the approval process, and to be sure you are following the correct process for the particular property.  Call 651-266-8989 and ask for a person to talk to about a vacant building purchase, a “Chapter 33 Review”, process. This review process is free at the moment, but there will be a $275 fee for Sale Review, effective 1/1/2010.
  • Get a code compliance report. Before the property is purchased, a code compliance report must be obtained.  The cost of a code compliance inspection is $426 for a single family home, and $533 for a duplex. The City of Saint Paul is currently running about a month out on getting these reports done.
  • Provide proof the repairs will happen: Buyers need to provide proof that they’ll be able to perform the code compliance repairs after they buy the house.  The buyer must submit a cost estimate for the repairs, a schedule of when the work will be completed, and must provide proof of financial ability to perform repairs.  The City of Saint Paul will accept proof of financial capability on a case by case basis.  The money for the repairs does not need to be escrowed.
  • Complete the repairs: The repairs required by a code compliance inspection aren’t unreasonable.  I’ve read a few of these reports and talked to the city inspector that does these, and the repairs are usually pretty basic things that any good home remodeler would take care of as part of the fixing-up process.  A few of these things are replacing roofs that are shot, having proper grade around the house, correcting unsafe stairways, repairing or replacing damaged windows /  siding / trim, correcting plumbing / electrical / HVAC defects, and correcting any structural issues.

Every good contractor I know fixes all these things when buying a house with the intention of fixing it up for resale or rent.  I’m glad that the City of Saint Paul is requiring these repairs, because it prevents the stereotypical ‘fix-n-flipper’ from pulling their little trick (buying a run-down property, slapping some new paint on the walls, installing stainless steel appliances, and marketing the property as ‘recently remodeled’).  The repairs required by code compliance forces contractors to repair houses more the way they should be repaired.

  • Certificate of Code Compliance Required: All repairs must be done with permits and approved by the City, and the Certificate of Code Compliance must be issued, before the building can be occupied.

For a sample code compliance report, click here.  To obtain this report, I simply went to the Saint Paul Vacant Building List, selected “View By Category Type”, chose “Category 2″, and made note of an address on the list – 900 3rd ST E (this was the second property listed at the time I wrote this blog- the first property hadn’t had a code compliance report generated yet).  I then went to the Saint Paul Property Lookup Page, clicked on “Property info and Permits by Address”, then typed in the address that I had previously noted.  If you scroll down on the page a little bit, you’ll notice a hyperlink that reads “07/24/2009: Vacant Building – Code Compliance Report (DSI).”  Click that link to pull up the report.  If you want to get a more specific idea of what items need to be addressed for code compliance, read through a few more code compliance reports.

If you’re going to take nothing else away from this blog, the most important thing to know is that you need to contact the city when buying a registered vacant building.  I can’t stress that enough.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – EmailSaint Paul Truth In Sale of Housing Evaluator

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Note: the information above was reviewed for accuracy as of this writing by Connie Sandberg, Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Program Administrator. VB Sale requirements may change at any time. Contact the City directly for the most recent and accurate information.

Some of the information in this blog was obtained from a document published by the City of Saint Paul, Requirements for the Sale of Registered Vacant Buildings


About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

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4 Comments

  • AJ 2 YEARS AGO

    St Paul City Council is horrible; never buy a property there! The link below shows the City Himmler, lying to tear down a building. Don't buy into category whatever claptrap designation they come up with, Is just an excuse to misappropriate private property. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1qyPRQisWM

  • Lori WIlliams 2 YEARS AGO

    After reading this article I have no desire to live in St. Paul at all. The cost is ridiculous not only for taxes but for the compliance reports.

  • REG Group LLC 2 YEARS AGO

    I think they are great for Investors.