Newspaper article Providence Journal (Providence, RI)

Real Estate | Housing Agency Requires Appraisal

Newspaper article Providence Journal (Providence, RI)

Real Estate | Housing Agency Requires Appraisal

Article excerpt

PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island Housing has revamped the way it acquires property through its Land Bank Program and now requires any vacant lots or undeveloped property to undergo comprehensive real- estate appraisals.

The Providence Journal obtained a copy of a one-page memo last week that was issued by Carol Ventura, director of development at Rhode Island Housing, titled "Required Property Appraisal." The document spells out in three paragraphs that it is essential for the housing agency to have all potential housing property appraised before purchasing it.

"An accurate assessment of the property's value is critical to a fair, equitable and sound underwriting process," Ventura wrote. "Given this importance, Rhode Island Housing will no longer evaluate Land Bank applications that are not supported by a current property appraisal."

She also wrote that if an applicant to sell Rhode Island Housing land does not have an appraisal done within six months prior to applying, Rhode Island Housing will commission an appraisal and charge the applicant for the review.

Ventura's memo was distributed after a series of stories in The Journal detailed vacant lots that Rhode Island Housing bought in Providence at prices as much as six times their assessed value. The agency also acknowledged that it never had a distressed lot appraised at 36 Cromwell St., in the city's West End.

On June 17, 2008, Rhode Island Housing bought the 0.32-acre lot off Elmwood Avenue for $250,000. At the time, the city had the property assessed at $121,100, records show, and last year its value had dropped to $85,300, according to the city tax assessor's office.

The previous owner, Angel L. Figueroa, had bought the lot in June 2002 for $40,000.

Ventura and Michael V. Milito, Rhode Island Housing's deputy assistant director, said they never got an appraisal for the Cromwell Street lot. Instead, they said, the value was based on another West End property they bought in 2007 at the corner of Lester and Bridgham streets for $255,000. …

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