USA Today reports that two of the nation's largest lenders are reporting an increased number of donated homes: Wells Fargo donated more than 1,120 homes last year, up from 295 in 2010, while Bank of America donated 150 homes last year and plans to donate more than 1,200 this year. Habitat for Humanity has also reported a doubling of homes that it received for rehabilitation.
By donating, mortgage owners free themselves from the cost of maintaining homes they cannot sell. The bigger benefit is that cleaned-up neighborhoods help stabilize values of surrounding homes, banks say. Charles Konkus, president of West Dundee, Ill.-based Real Estate Donations, observes that the charitable donation route is often seen as an avenue of last resort.
‘People see this as a way out if they can't sell,’ Konkus says.
However, not every nonprofit organization welcomes this type of donation. For example, the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, Calif., was forced to turn down three offers of donated homes because it was unable to use the properties to access cash for its grant-making operations.