Area real estate brokers will begin marketing city-owned residential properties for a fee under an agreement approved by the city Board of Estimates yesterday.
Mayor Martin O'Malley praised the agreement with the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors as a better way to sell vacant city homes than relying on the slow-moving city bureaucracy.
"We need to get more of these properties back on the tax roll," O'Malley said of the thousands of vacant houses owned by the city.
"We're bad landlords, and we're bad real estate brokers. And so anything you can do to get these [house listings] out there and to your members, the better," the mayor told representatives of the Realtors' board at yesterday's meeting.
Karen Footner, executive director of the nonprofit Baltimore Efficiency and Economy Foundation, which helped to coordinate the agreement, said the Realtors would start with a list of 50 city-owned houses and try to market these through advertising, for-sale signs and listings on Web sites. After these are sold, the 2,700 members of the Board of Realtors will try to sell other city-owned houses, Footner said.
Eventually, real estate brokers could help sell the thousands of houses that the O'Malley administration hopes to acquire through a program called Project 5,000, which has recently begun to acquire vacant and abandoned houses.
Under the agreement approved by the Board of Estimates yesterday, Realtors would collect 8 percent of the sales price of any city-owned house sold, or a minimum fee of $2,500 per house, whichever is greater.