FULTON, NY – Unique to Fulton, Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. has developed an innovative solution to tackling tax-foreclosed properties throughout the city.
Woodward uses a set of guidelines to decide whether a tax-foreclosed residence is able to be rehabbed and sold at full market value.
This process, seemingly uncommon in other municipalities, has been ongoing for the last ten years after Woodward originated the idea and solicited approval from the New York State Conference of Mayors.
To date, the city has rehabbed and sold twelve properties throughout the city and has made demolition for rehab trades on two properties with the Oswego County Land Bank.
“I budget $150,000 to rehab, out of that I project and budget $300,000 in revenue. So, we double our money on it and we’re improving our neighborhoods and the value of our city,” Woodward said.
The process was not always that way, though, Woodward recalled.
“I had been looking at these tax foreclosures and for years the city used to sell these tax-foreclosed properties at auctions. The problem was, you got hardly any money out of it and the people that bought it were out of towners who threw a coat of paint on it and then the neighborhoods dealt with whoever they put there. So, I said, ‘we’re not doing this anymore.’ If they need to be torn down, we’ll tear them down. If they need to be fixed up, we’ll fix them up and we’ll sell them at market value,” he explained.
Woodward examines each property to determine whether the house is in a condition well enough to rehab.
“The first thing I look for is the bones, make sure the house is structurally sound. I look at the sheetrock, the wiring, everything, then we do an asbestos survey. Once that comes back, if I decided we are going to rehab it, we gut it and start from scratch,” he said.
The work is bid out, however, most of the time local contractors are awarded. All appliances are purchased locally through Fulton Appliance.
The rehabbed properties come fully equipped with everything brand new including yard work and, weather-dependent, a freshly paved driveway.
“We want young people here and we don’t want them to fail the first ten years they’re in their house. This has brought people in from outside our city and buying at market value ensures they are typically employed to secure a mortgage and are paying the taxes everyone should be paying,” Woodward said.
So far, this distinctive approach has paid off for the selected properties.
“This has been 100 percent successful so far, every house we’ve rehabbed has sold and usually pretty quickly,” Woodward said.
This year, Woodward has a goal to rehab and sell three tax-foreclosed properties.
With each flip, Woodward changes forgotten, often dilapidated properties to respectable, worthy homes to brighten the look and feel of the city for Fulton residents and prospective buyers.