Vacant and abandoned properties in New Orleans, LA fall under the jurisdiction of two different entities. The first is the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA). NORA was charged with the disposition of almost 5,000 properties following Hurricane Katrina. They also manage a large portfolio of vacant properties across New Orleans.
The second organization that manages vacant and abandoned buildings is the Department of Code Enforcement (DCE). The DCE manages the list of all properties reported as blight. These properties undergo an administrative process to get them back up to code. The end result of the process may include foreclosure and selling the property at auction.
About the Properties
All property belonging to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority is city-owned. To know if the New Orleans property you find on Derelict.com is managed by NORA, check to see if there is an an organization identifier on the property details page. This indicates it is a NORA property. Properties on the blighted list are mostly privately owned and the owner may or may not be open to purchase discussions. Our experience with blighted properties though indicates that most owners are willing to sell. They typically do not have the money or the willingness to bring the property up to code themselves.
Note: We highly recommend finding a good real estate lawyer to help you through the acquisition process.
Step 1 - Check City of New Orleans Sites
Start with the following sites and cross-check the property you found on Derelict.com. There may also be additional properties on some of these sites.
New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) - New Orleans has a very active redevelopment initiative. If the New Orleans property you find on Derelict.com has an organization identifier, it is a NORA property. Go to the NORA site and express your interest in acquiring the property. NORA will help you through every step of the process. There is no need to continue with the subsequent steps.
Department of Code Enforcement - Learn about the process that blighted properties undergo. No one wants to see these properties rehabilitated or redeveloped more than the city.
BlightStatus - Find properties cited as blight in the City of New Orleans. These are great leads on potential properties.
Sheriff, Orleans Parish - The Sheriff's office conducts weekly auctions of foreclosed properties.
Step 2 - Identify the Property Owner
The following site will help you find the owner of the property using just a street address:
Orleans Parish Assessor - The assessor office will provide you with the owner's name and the current and historical assessed value of the property. It also links to a parcel map, additional photos, and a calculator for estimating taxes.
This step is very important to help you get a better understanding of the property's history and potential issues before you approach the owner to see if they are willing to sell.
Parish of New Orleans Land Records Division - Not necessary for the casual user but if you plan to research multiple properties this may be a good stop. This site gives you access to land records including sales, mortgages, building contracts and judgements of possession. There is a $50 registration fee and an annual fee of $100 as of the writing of this article. You can look up these records free by going to the Clerk's Office located on the 4th floor at 1340 Poydras Street in New Orleans.
New Orleans Property Viewer - This is a useful way to view the property you've chosen. It displays the property on a map with lots of useful information and map layers such as zoning.
Parish of Orleans Civil District Court - Remote access is provided to civil court documents for a fee. As of the writing of this article, the fee is $100 per month or $500 per year. This site is useful for determining if the owner is involved in any court cases that pertain to the property. You can lookup these records free by going to the Civil District Court at 421 Loyola Avenue in New Orleans.
City of New Orleans One Stop Permits and Licenses - This is a great resource for finding any permits, licenses, planning projects, or code violations tied to the property. Remember that if you acquire ownership of the property, you will be required to resolve any outstanding code violations.
Step 4 - Contact the Owner
At this point you should have enough information to be able to contact the owner to see if they are willing to sell. If the contact information for the owner is old, you may need to do a little more digging to find them. Again, you might need a paid service like PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. There is also a possibility that the owner is deceased and their estate is probated. To find the will of the deceased and learn the name of the new owners you can use the following site:
Parish of Orleans Civil District Court - Search for wills and probate cases tied to the deceased owner. As stated above, remote access is available for a fee or you may search for records for free by going to the court.
If you've determined the owner is deceased and there was no will recorded, the process for acquiring the property becomes much more involved and can take years to complete. To acquire the property you would need to have the property escheated.