New Plan Gives Government First Dibs On Foreclosures

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A new program allows government agencies and their partners to have exclusive purchase rights on foreclosed homes before families, investors and the rest of the private market is allowed to bid.

September 18, 2010

A new program allows government agencies and their partners to have exclusive purchase rights on foreclosed homes before families, investors and the rest of the private market is allowed to bid. Called First Look, it is touted as a tool to maximize an effort funded with federal taxpayer dollars to fix-and-flip homes in distressed neighborhoods. First Look will be utilized by grantees in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

Since 2008, the NSP has used billions in federal tax money with the aim of shoring up troubled neighborhoods plagued by foreclosures and abandoned homes. The homes are resold to low-income and moderate-income families at or below the cost to the government or participating non-profit. First Look offers NSP grantees including state and local governments and non-profit organizations an exclusive one to two day window to express interest in a property. Those governments and nonprofits will have five to 12 days to close the deal before the property is opened to the private market.

The initiative is a partnership between HUD, the Stabilization Trust and financial institutions holding an estimated 75 percent of the bank-owned properties in the U.S.
The latest $1 billion in NSP funding is expected to impact 14,000 foreclosed homes nationwide. HUD officials say sheer numbers mean the impact of First Look will be limited. Foreclosures purchased through First Look will only be in troubled neighborhoods. Local governments and nonprofits will determine which neighborhoods qualify.

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