Tags: Banks | Homeowners | Donate | Houses

USA Today: Banks, Homeowners Donate Houses to Charity

By Michelle Smith   |   Friday, 30 Dec 2011 01:51 PM

Banks and homeowners have found a way to free themselves from the burden of houses that they can't sell — just give them away. There is a growing trend of houses being donated to charity, USA Today reported.

Charities and nonprofits have long been the recipients of donated cash, cars, food and clothing, but now there is a trend toward houses, The Detroit Free Press reports.

People are feeling the financial burden of paying taxes, insurance and maintenance on homes that won't sell — and continue to drop in value, The Detroit Free Press reports. When they donate the house, the charity benefits from proceeds from its eventual sale and the donor gets a tax deduction.

It isn't only cash strapped homeowners that see charity as a way out. Banks are also showing a penchant for charity.

Bank of America donated 150 houses in 2011 and plans to donate more than 1,200 next year, USA Today reports. Wells Fargo donated more than 1,120 homes this year, up from 295 last year.

It’s a win-win for the bank, the neighborhood, and the investor, USA Today quoted Rebecca Maroine, head of Bank of America's donation program as saying.

When parties donate houses they aren't interested in caring for, it often helps to protect the value of the surrounding properties. It can also be a means for recipients to earn much more cash than they would from other fundraising measures, such as bake sales or car washes.

But, many of the houses owners are looking to off-load are in bad shape and either need to be demolished or require expensive rehabilitation. In some cases, potential recipients have to say no thank you because they are not equipped to handle the projects or the return isn't worth it.

As the foreclosure crisis drags on, this trend of home donations is expected to grow, which may become overwhelming for those on the receiving end.

In the metro Detroit area, for example, charities report they've been so flooded with offers to donate houses that they've been forced to adopt strict policies for what they'll take, The Detroit Free Press reports.

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