home

The Great American Pixel

text

Why Don’t We Own This? Updates!

For those playing the home game, check out what’s new with Why Don’t We Own This?

As you may already know, Wayne County, Michigan is about to auction off another 22,506 tax foreclosure properties, with more than 20,000 of them in Detroit. Dang. (Round 1 is September 14 - 20 where bids open at the cost of back taxes. Round 2 is October 19 - 25 where bids open at $500. For official auction information visit www.co.wayne.mi.us/5143.htm.)

This post will do its best to quickly walk you through what’s fresh with WDOT, including:

• QUICKLY FIND YOUR STREET
• BUILD LISTS OF PLACES TO FOLLOW 
• DRAW NEIGHBORHOODS & SEE WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE
• ASK & ANSWER QUESTIONS
• TALK ABOUT PLACES 
• SHARE PHOTOGRAPHS & SURVEY PLACES
• LIVE BID TRACKING & NEWS FEED
• LET US KNOW WHAT STINKS & WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE NEXT
• START OR FIND A PROJECT?

We are always a work in progress, so if anything is confusing or not working right, please please please reach out to us at team@makeloveland.com or 313-649-5263.

Hokay, so…

Last year LOVELAND created the WDWOT service to help make the auction more understandable. It’s not that we love auctions, but we love cities, we love Detroit, we love the internet, and we couldn’t help but notice that tens of thousands of properties were sloshing around for $500 each and no one had any idea what was going on.

At the outset I’ll ask that if you find this information useful, please share whydontweownthis.com with your friends and the people you think should see it. At a minimum that’s everyone living in Detroit where the auction literally touches every single neighborhood.

Also Note: WDWOT is entirely free to use but we do recommend that you log into the site through your existing Facebook account or by creating a LOVELAND account. You don’t need to be logged in to explore what properties are being auctioned in Detroit and Wayne County, but you do need to log in to interact with the site and save your work.

• QUICKLY FIND YOUR STREET

The first, simplest thing to do when you hit whydontweownthis.com is to type your street name or street of interest into the search box. The map will zoom in and you can see if there are auction properties right around you. (Here I am searching for Dolphin Street after reading that a U-Haul truck stolen from the US Secret Service with equipment for a Joe Biden event was recovered there… I don’t know, man, I just live here… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯):

• BUILD LISTS OF PLACES TO FOLLOW

Anyway, from there, if you’re signed in and see a property or area you want to follow and get updates on, just click it, then click the heart icon on its page, like so:

It’ll get added to the list on your profile (privately so no one else has to see what you’re following) and you’ll get an email every time someone posts a new comment or photo to it, or places a bid on it. Bam. Suddenly you’re in the loop.

• DRAW NEIGHBORHOODS & SEE WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE

To get a little fancier — and I think this is probably the coolest new feature with a lot of future potential, too — you can now draw a neighborhood or area boundary on top of the city, name it, save it, and see exactly what’s going on inside it.

Let me show rather than tell, using the “100 Houses Project” area as an example. A couple weeks ago radio host Mitch Albom and others hosted an event in Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood where volunteers boarded up 100 houses in a day. Detroit Free Press reporter, Megha Satyanarayana did a write-up here and used an earlier version of this tool to pull some numbers.

See here what it looks like when you draw an area outline and give it a name:

Underneath that, WDWOT automagically shows you data about the area like how big the area is, how many total properties it has, how many of those are at auction, how many are structures versus vacant lots, how many have bids so far, how much it would cost to buy them all at round 1 (the back taxes round) and at round 2 (the $500 round), and who the top owners of property and of foreclosed properties at auction are:

This can be quite revealing, as in this case what the volunteers (not to mention the residents!) could not possibly see with their eyes is that more than 1/3 of the 100 houses they boarded up are going to auction, likely purchased for $500 if at all, and that more than 1 out of 10 properties in the entire area will be at auction as well. Sheesh! Nor could they see that amongst the top owners within the area are the City of Detroit, the Michigan Land Bank, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, and Deutsche Bank.

You can also toggle between all comments and photos posted by others within the area. But moving on!

• ASK & ANSWER QUESTIONS

There’s also a new Question & Answer section where you can ask anything about the auction, land ownership, rehabbing or tearing down properties, Detroit, etc etc. A lot of questions come up again and again, or can’t be satisfactorily answered by us as an independent group who is far from expert, so this should be helpful:

• TALK ABOUT PLACES

You can comment on properties, which can be about all sorts of things. I like to point out when I see houses at auction that are occupied (and whenever I can I ask the person if they know their house is at auction). If you have a story about a property or neighborhood, or an idea or concern, why not share it? Letting someone know that something will be a difficult investment or inviting someone to take something on can be helpful in creating best outcomes for everyone. 

I do want to point out that we currently moderate comments on the site because we want to keep it a safe, friendly place for discussion. Our listed conversation policy may seem a little funny, but if you’ve been around the comment block we hope you appreciate it (you’ll get an email confirming your comment was received, and another email when it’s approved):

Conversation Policy: Keep it constructive. Comments containing foul language, attacks against people or groups, racism, bigotry, defeatism, overt negativity, haterade, holier-than-thouness and/or general jackassery will not be posted. Please address others like you were standing in the same room. This is a safe place. 

• SHARE PHOTOGRAPHS & SURVEY PLACES

You can also post photos to properties, which is something we’d love to see more of. We automagically link to a Google Streetview image of every property, but those are often years out of date. Now you can take a current picture of properties and share them through the site. For example, here’s a photo set I made of all the unoccupied auction properties in North Corktown (my personal rule is to note places that look occupied and don’t photograph them):

• LIVE BID TRACKING & NEWS FEED

Well that was fast! Just after posting this, Larry got the feed up that shows all public site activity (comments, photos, questions, answers, neighborhood drawings, bids, etc), check it out: whydontweownthis.com/feed!

Right now the Feed section is set up to start showing bids and winners when the auction starts, but soon it will also show public contributions as they come into the site (comments, photos, questions, answers, new neighborhoods, etc) to help you discover what all’s going on out there.

• LET US KNOW WHAT STINKS & WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE NEXT

For the rest of what’s there, please click around, and please please PLEASE tell us when you hit any snags or dislike anything whatsoever. Cold, constructive criticism is needed to improve the service and you will not hurt our feelings (we’ve been beaten down many times before and know we have polishing to do :-)). 

You can write us any time at team@makeloveland.com or call us at 313-649-5263. 

• START OR FIND A PROJECT?

The only other thing I’ll tease and ask for ideas on is a “Start or Find A Project” section to the site. If you’ve been following our work you may have seen me write about an idea to crowdfund properties: “No Property Left Behind”. We’re still trying to find the perfect area of the city to focus on for a pilot, and it seems like a section of the site where people can propose projects and connect with others either to co-purchase properties or pool resources to deconstruct or rehab or grow something etc would be powerful.

Anyway, that’s more than enough, thanks for reading! If you want to follow general updates on our work we post at facebook.com/makeloveland and twitter.com/makeloveland. To be continued… 

1 year ago

September 5, 2012
Comments (View)
blog comments powered by Disqus