Can I find a home to live in on this website?

No, probably not. Most of the properties on this website are vacant land, and the buildings that are available are mostly shells and not appropriate for someone to live in without significant rehabilitation.

If you need emergency shelter – a place to live in today – the Office of Homeless Services offers resources for individuals, single parents with children and families with children.

If you are looking to rent a property, you might want to start by visiting www.pahousingsearch.com, by looking in neighborhood newspapers in a neighborhood you’d like to live in, or by contacting a realtor who works with rental properties. If you are looking to buy a home, you might want to start by contacting a realtor, looking in newspapers, or consulting the many home buying resources on the web.

If you are a low- or moderate-income household you might want to consult with a housing counseling agency, especially if you are buying your first home or if you haven’t owned a home in the past three years.

How can I stay informed about Land Bank activities?

We’re glad you asked! We have a registration form, and after you complete it we’ll keep you up-to-date on Land Bank news, featured property offerings, Requests for Proposals, upcoming meetings and more. You can also follow us on Twitter.

What is the Philadelphia Land Bank?

The Philadelphia Land Bank is a powerful tool to return vacant and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. It will simplify the process of transferring properties from public agencies to private owners. It can also acquire privately owned, tax delinquent vacant parcels that are roadblocks to revitalization. And the Land Bank’s ability to clear liens from titles will make properties more attractive to potential new owners.

How was the Philadelphia Land Bank created?

In December 2013, City Council, led by Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, and Councilman Curtis Jones, unanimously passed legislation to create a land bank. Mayor Nutter then signed the legislation into law.

Who runs the Philadelphia Land Bank?

The Land Bank is fortunate to be led by a board that is well versed in real estate, development and public policy issues, supported by a staff of talented and dedicated employees. Visit our Board Meeting Information page for information about board meeting schedules, agendas and minutes.

How does the Land Bank decide on future uses of its properties?

The Land Bank’s foundation is a strategic plan that guides its goals and operations. That plan – informed by data, stakeholder concerns, citywide and neighborhood plans, and public comment – lays out a vision in which vacant properties become tools for revitalization rather than harbingers of decline.

Who can buy Land Bank or City property?

Any individual, developer, or organization with no outstanding tax or property-related liens can seek to purchase a parcel through the Land Bank. We require that purchasers reuse the property in compliance with City code requirements and ordinances, have the financial ability to purchase the property, and have the capacity to complete the work associated with the reuse plan.
Most uses will fall under one of these categories:

  • Development
  • Featured Property
  • Yard
  • Garden

The information below is intended to give you a general overview of issues related to buying or leasing Land Bank properties. For more detailed information, please review our Disposition Policy.

Can I buy a building and rehab it to live in?

Almost every building in the Land Bank inventory will need significant rehabilitation before it can be used, but yes, you can buy, rehab and live in a building the Land Bank currently owns.

We don’t yet have a way of showing you what our properties look like (but we’re working on it!), so it will likely take a couple of steps to find the right property. You could find a building you are interested in and then search our inventory to see if we own it, or you could compare the properties in our inventory to a web-based street view to see what the property looks like. While you’re searching, our map-based system will tell you the price, size and zoning of each property we have for sale.

However you choose to identify a property, it probably is a good idea to visit the property before you make an offer just to make sure that it is a building suitable for rehabbing and living in.

Next you’ll need to register in our system. This will help us keep you informed as to the status of your inquiry.

Once you find the property you want, use our website to submit what’s called an Expression of Interest (EOI). You’ll complete the EOI on line, and you’ll tell us that you want to rehab the property to live in.

We’ll be asking you for a Tax Certification. This gives us permission to check to see that you’re up-to-date on your City taxes.

We’ll also check with other City agencies, including your District Councilperson, to see if your plans for the property are consistent with what the City has in mind. For that reason it’s always a good idea to see if your plans are consistent with the zoning for the property. You should also touch base with the office of your District Councilperson to discuss your plans with her or his staff.

We will contact you after we have confirmed that you owe the City no taxes or liens and after we have reviewed your EOI. We’ll want to know your experience or ability to do a rehab project, your financing plans along with preliminary designs and/or specifications.

Like any other property transaction, there will be an agreement of sale for you to sign, you will need to provide a deposit, there will be a property settlement, and you will be responsible for closing costs. You also might wish to secure title insurance (at your expense).

The Land Bank’s goal is to reactivate vacant properties, so we’ll expect you to move quickly once you own the property. We expect you to obtain permits, finalize financing, comply with any other requirements and begin construction within six months of settlement.

Once you complete your project, request a Certificate of Completion and the return of your deposit, which completes the property transfer process.

How can I find development opportunities?

If you are a developer who works on one or two properties at a time, the best way to buy property from the Land Bank is to use the process outlined on our How to Buy page.

But if you are a developer who works at three or more properties at once and who is looking to buy multiple properties at a time, that process might not work best for you. Honestly, it probably doesn’t work best for us either.

Rather than submit multiple Expressions of Interest that our system will treat as individual purchases, with each requiring some of the same forms, please contact our Project Development team, and we’ll see if we can consolidate your property inquiries into one request. That way, you won’t have to complete as many forms and we won’t have to review as many, saving us both time.

You can reach one of our Project Development representatives by calling 215-448-3040.

The Land Bank will also make some properties available through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The RFP will describe the available property to potential bidders and include guidelines for those who wish to submit proposals along with forms for bidders to use to submit required information.

Want to know when we issue an RFP? Sign up to receive e-mail notification when development opportunities are posted.

(If you’re only planning to buy a couple of properties, please use our standard process. A lot of that process is automated, and so contacting our Project Development team for purchases that only involve a couple of properties will actually slow your acquisition(s) down. Thanks!)

How can I buy a property or two for development?

If you are looking to buy and develop one or two properties, please follow these steps.

First you’ll need to register in our system. This will help us keep you informed as to the status of your inquiry.

Next, search our inventory to find the property you want. Our map-based system will tell you the price, size and zoning of each property.

Once you find the property you want, click to submit what’s called an Expression of Interest (EOI). You’ll complete the EOI on line, and that will tell us what you want to do with the property so that we can see what additional information we might need from you.

One form we’ll be asking for is a Tax Certification. This gives us permission to check to see that you’re up-to-date on your City taxes.

We’ll also check with other City agencies, including your District Councilperson, to see if your plans for the property are consistent with what the City has in mind. For that reason it’s always a good idea to see if your plans are consistent with the zoning for the property and the Planning Commission’s 2035 Plan. City Council will also need to pass a resolution approving the sale, so you should also touch base with the office of your District Councilperson to discuss your plans with her or his staff.

We will contact you after we have confirmed that you owe the City no taxes or liens and after we have reviewed your EOI. Depending on the development proposed, we may request additional materials and we may contact you to request information regarding development and financing plans along with preliminary designs and/or specifications.

Like any other property transaction, there will be an agreement of sale for you to sign, you will need to provide a deposit, there will be a property settlement, and you will be responsible for closing costs. You also might wish to secure title insurance (at your expense).

The Land Bank’s goal is to reactivate vacant properties, so we’ll expect you to move quickly once you own the property. We expect you to obtain permits, finalize financing, comply with any other requirements and begin construction within six months of settlement.

Once you complete your project, request a Certificate of Completion and the return of your deposit, which completes the property transfer process.

How can I buy a property for a yard?

First you’ll need to register in our system. This will help us keep you informed as to the status of your inquiry.

Next, search our inventory to see if the property next to or behind your house is one we own. If it is, click to submit what’s called an Expression of Interest (EOI). You’ll complete the EOI on line, telling us that you want the property for a yard. The price of the property will be listed in the inventory.

As we process your EOI, if we need more information we’ll be in touch. One form we will be asking for is a Tax Certification. This gives us permission to check to see that you’re up-to-date on your City taxes.

A helpful hint – check in with your District Councilperson.  City Council will need to pass a resolution approving the sale, so you should discuss your plans with her or his staff.

As with every other Land Bank transaction, you’ll be responsible for closing costs, which will be based on our asking price for the property, even if we sell it to you at a reduced price (see FAQ below about buying at reduced price).

How can I obtain land for a garden or farm?

If you want to lease property for an individual garden, a community garden or an urban for-profit farm, you will go through the same process outlined above to register, search for a property and submit an EOI.  The City does not sell properties for use as a garden or farm, but rather offers licenses or leases that range in time from one to five years.

  • Individual garden licenses and leases are available on a year-to-year basis.
  • Community garden licenses and leases are available for up to five years.
  • Market farm licenses and leases are determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • All licenses and leases may be renewed.

Need more detail? Our disposition policies offer a complete overview of the City’s policies regarding the sale and lease of publicly owned land.

How can I buy or lease a Land Bank property?

Buying or leasing publicly owned land in Philadelphia has never been easier. The process is straightforward, there is only one city agency to deal with, and this website will walk you through it. As long as you don’t owe the City back taxes or other charges, you should be eligible to make an offer on our properties.

Can I buy a property at a discounted price?

Maybe. There are instances in which the City may decide that the benefits of selling a property for less than the market value outweigh the loss of revenue. Typically these situations will be when a developer wants to build affordable housing, when an adjacent homeowner wants to take a property with little market value and turn it into a yard, or if plans for a lot will offer a significant community benefit, such as a community garden or stormwater management, that would not otherwise be possible without a discounted price.

Information about discounted prices for yards is available on our Yard section. Most developments that will be eligible for discounted pricing will require multiple parcels, and the process for purchasing more than one or two properties is outlined on our Multiple Properties section.

More complete information about discounted pricing is available in our Disposition Policies.