Buying Property
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Apply for Available City properties and Browse the Interactive Map

New Featured Properties website - Find information on selected properties for competitive bidding by the Philadelphia Department of Public Property, the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority here.

Review our frequently asked questions for more information about the buying process below.

1. Who can buy City Property

Any individual, developer, or organization with no outstanding tax or property-related liens can seek to purchase a parcel listed on this website. The City requires 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 two categories:

  • Redevelopment
  • Side Yard
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    2. How can I buy a property for development?
    1. Submit online “Expression of Interest” (EOI) form.
    2. You need to fill out a Tax Status & Public Disclosure forms. Please complete & sign each element of the document, and return via email to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
    3. This process will require the approval of the District Council person.  You may wish to acquire a letter of support. The City will also notify the District Council person of your wish to purchase a property.
    4. The City will review your EOI, while working with the City Revenue Department to confirm tax clearance.
    5. You will be contacted by the City after clearance and review of the EOI have been completed. Depending on the development proposed, additional materials may be requested, and staff may contact you to request information regarding development and financing plans to indicate sources to be used to purchase & improve the property, along with preliminary designs and/or specifications.
    6. An agreement will be sent for you to sign and a “good faith deposit” will have to be submitted.
    7. Attend the property settlement, and pay all related costs. You may wish to secure title insurance (at your expense).
    8. Once you have acquired all permits and complied with all other requirements you may begin construction. The City expects this will occur within six months of closing.
    9. Upon completion of the project, you must request a Certificate of Completion and the return of your deposit.
    10. You have satisfied the obligations and now own the property free and clear.

    Note: If there are multiple bids for a lot, the process will move to competitive bid process under the Broker Sales Featured Property Program.

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    3. How can I buy a property for a side yard?

    If the property you are interested in is:

    • adjacent to your property, sharing a common boundary line
    • under 3,000 square feet
    • valued under $15,000

    AND, you:

    • own your property as your primary residence
    • live on a block that is predominantly occupied

    Then you may qualify to buy this lot for use as a side yard.

    1. Submit an online “Expression of Interest” (EOI) form.
    2. You need to fill out a Tax Status & Public Disclosure forms. Please complete & sign each element of the document, and return via email to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
    3. The City will review your EOI, while working with the City Revenue Department to confirm tax clearance.
    4. This process will require the approval of the District Council person.  You may wish to acquire a letter of support. The City will also notify the District Council person of your wish to purchase a property.
    5. You will be contacted by the City after clearance and review of the EOI have been completed. Additional materials may be requested, and staff will contact you to request information regarding providing a budget for any improvements you will make on the lot and a sketch of the proposed uses.
    6. Attend the property settlement to sign all of the required documents. If you buy the property for less than the fair market value, one document you will need to sign is a 10 year, self-amortizing mortgage.  This document enables the City to recapture some of the fair market value it is giving up if you sell the property in the next ten years. You may also need to secure title insurance for this transaction.
    7. Upon completion of improving the property to a side yard, you must request a Certificate of Completion. Once you receive it, you own the property.
    8. If you sell the property within ten years, you are responsible to repay the City the fair market value price determined by the appraisal at the time of your purchase, minus 10% per year. For example, if the lot is worth $10,000 and you buy it for $1 and then sell it after 5 years, you will owe the City $5,000.
    9. After ten years, the restrictions will be removed and you will own the property free and clear.

    Note: If there are multiple bids for the lot, the process will move to competitive bid process under the Broker Sales Featured Property Program.

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    4. How much will I be required to pay for my side yard property?

    The sales price will depend on the size of the lot and may range in price. (See below: Can I Buy a Property at a Discounted Price?)Even if you qualify to purchase the property for $1, you should expect to pay approximately $1000 at settlement. This additional cost accounts for paying the following expenses:

    • the 4% transfer tax on the value of the property
    • a recording fee (usually under $500 for recording the deed and mortgage)
    • to acquire title insurance (usually under $400)
    • an administration-settlement fee (usually under $100)

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    5. May I use this side yard to park my car?

    You must secure a zoning variance and Streets Department approval for curb cuts before you may use a side yard for parking. All improvements to the lot must comply with zoning regulations.

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    6. Can I buy a property at a discounted price?

    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 side yard, or if developing a lot will offer a significant community benefit that would not otherwise be possible without a discounted price. For more information, please see the City Vacant Land Policy.
    To submit a discounted offer for a property, use the EOI form and clearly outline the benefits to the City and/or the community of your intended property use and, if appropriate, how a discounted price on the property makes an otherwise infeasible project feasible.

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    7. How can I purchase a property that is a Featured Property under the Brokers Sale Program?

    The Brokers Sale Program is used when the City believes that a property has significant market value and wishes to open the property to bidding to obtain a combination of the best price and the best reuse.

    1. Parties interested in a Featured Property should submit a competitive qualified bid that includes:
    1. If the property you are looking to purchase has a structure, you will be provided with and Entry Authorization to gain entrance to a building.
    2. Staff will respond within 10 days to your bid offer, at which point you will be required to provide a deposit check for 10% of the purchase price.
    3. You will have 45 days to inspect the property and prepare preliminary plans, specifications, budget, and financing plan.
    4. Sign the Agreement.
    5. Attend property settlement and provide payment for property and associated closing costs.
    6. Once you have acquired all permits and complied with all other requirements you may begin construction. The City expects this will occur within six months of closing.
    7. Upon completion of the project, you must request a Certificate of Completion and the return of your deposit.

    You have satisfied the obligations and now own the property free and clear.

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    8. Is it possible to lease City property?

    The City leases properties for urban agricultural activities defined as 1) an urban garden, 2) a community garden, or 3) an urban farm. An urban garden is a non-commercial garden used by one household; a community garden is a non-commercial garden managed by a nonprofit; and an urban farm is a commercial garden that has a goal of earning a profit.

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    9. How can I get a property to use as a not-for-profit private individual garden?
    1. Submit online EOI form.
    2. You need to fill out a Tax Status & Public Disclosure forms. Please complete & sign each element of the document, and return via email to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
    3. The City will review your EOI, while working with the City Revenue Department to confirm tax clearance.
    4. This process will require the approval of the District Council person.  You may wish to acquire a letter of support. The City will also notify the district Council person of your wish to garden on the property.
    5. You will be contacted by the City after clearance and review of the EOI have been completed and an Individual Garden Agreement will be provided for your signature. 
    6. Complete the Individual Garden Agreement which will grant use of the property for one year to be used as a garden. The City will maintain the right to terminate the lease agreement at any time, although the City will make efforts to not terminate between April 1 and November 1. The property must be maintained to the standards set out in the Individual Garden Agreement.
    7. Individuals looking to garden may be required to secure Insurance acceptable to the City. The required insurance limits will be included in the Individual Garden Agreement.
    8. The agreement may be renewed from year to year.

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    10. How can I get a property to use as a community garden?
    1. Submit online EOI form.
    2. You need to fill out a Tax Status & Public Disclosure forms. Please complete & sign each element of the document, and return via email to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19147.
    3. The City will review your EOI, while working with the City Revenue Department to confirm tax clearance.
    1. This process will require the approval of the district Council person.  You may wish to acquire a letter of support. The City will also notify the district Council person of your wish to garden on the property.
    2. You will be contacted by the City after clearance and review of the EOI have been completed. Additional materials may be requested, and staff will contact you to request information regarding a Maintenance Plan and Programming Plan outlining community benefits and provide you with a copy of the City Community Garden Agreement. 
    3. Community gardens will be required to secure Insurance acceptable to the City. The required insurance limits will be included in the Community Garden Agreement.
    4. Complete the Community Garden Agreement for lease of the property for 1-3 years. During that time you must maintain the property to the standards set out in the Community Garden Agreement and Maintenance Plan. 

    NOTE: Agreements for longer than 1 year will require additional City approvals and may take additional time. The agreement may be renewed from term to term.

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    11. How can I get a property to use as a for-profit farm?
    1. Submit online EOI form.
    2. You need to fill out a Tax Status & Public Disclosure forms. Please complete & sign each element of the document, and return via email to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
    3. The City will review your EOI, while working with the City Revenue Department to confirm tax clearance.
    4. This process will require the approval of the District Council person.  You may wish to acquire a letter of support. The City will also notify the District Council person of your wish to farm on the property.
    5. You will be contacted by the City after clearance and review of the EOI have been completed. Additional materials will be requested, and staff will contact you to request information regarding secure insurance and submitting a business or feasibility plan that demonstrates the viability of the project. Interested parties will be able to do due diligence before they submit their plans.

    NOTE: Agreements for longer than 1 year will require additional approvals and may take additional time. The agreement may be renewed from term to term.

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    12. What if the property I would like to purchase is listed as “not available” or is not listed at all?

    Not all City-owned properties are available for purchase. A property may already be under contract, may be held for future development opportunities, or may be held to be put out to bid under the Broker Sales Program.

    While the City and the PRA try to ensure the accuracy of their property list, it is possible that a property that is City-owned is mistakenly not listed. If you believe that a property that you are interested in purchasing is City-owned but is not listed on the website, please email the property address and the reason you believe it to be City-owned (tax records, a deed, etc.) to Property.Info@pra.phila.gov and staff will investigate the issue.

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    13. Where can I find the City’s policies for the sale and development of City-owned properties?

    For a copy of the City’s policies, please refer to the following link - City Vacant Land Policy.

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    14. Can I submit a bid for less than the listed price in the Phillylandworks website?

    The City believes the prices listed are fair and reasonable. Nonetheless, the City may consider offers other than the listed price under certain circumstances. If you wish to pursue property at a price other than that which is listed, please submit a counter offer bid form and a tax certification form. Your request will be directed to a review committee for consideration. Please understand that this request will delay processing and may result in the property being offered in a public bidding process.

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