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Philadelphia, PA
215-448-3040

1234 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Philadelphia, PA, Neglected, Vacant and Abandoned Real Estate

The revitalization of vacant and abandoned real estate in Philadelphia, PA falls under the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.  The sale of surplus city-owned land is handled by the Philadelphia Land Bank.

About the Properties

All Philadelphia real estate listings on Derelict.com are available for purchase through the Philadelphia Land Bank. 

Note: We highly recommend finding a good real estate lawyer to help you through the acquisition process.

Step 1 - Choose and inspect your property

Once you have found the property you want on Derelict.com it's very important you don't just buy the property sight-unseen.  What may seem like a great deal may actually be a money pit. First drive by the property to evaluate the exterior condition and get a feel for the neighborhood.  If you would like to gain entrance to a building you will need to schedule an appointment for a viewing through the owning agency. 

Step 2 - Understand the costs

In general, the prices listed are fixed and non-negotiable.  There are situations though where you may be able to acquire the property at a discounted price.  In order to get the cost down, you will need to show that the benefits to the city outweigh the loss of revenue they would have received for selling at a market rate price.  Common circumstances where this might be the case is a developer wanting to build affordable housing or a homeowner buying an adjacent empty lot with only nominal value in order to turn it into a side yard.  If you want to ask for a discounted price, you will need to be prepared to explain in detail how your intended use of the property will benefit the community and (if applicable) how it would make an otherwise infeasible project feasible.

Determine what you want to do with the property and put together the expected costs for your project.  You will be expected to show the financial ability to cover the costs.  Expect to pay a minimum of $70 per square foot for renovations and $120 per square foot for new construction. 

Some additional costs you may incur:

  • Transfer Tax - 4% of the value of the property
  • Recording Fee - Cost to record the deed and mortgage (Usually $500 or less)
  • Title Insurance - Protects you if there is a challenge to your title ownership (Usually $400 or less)
  • Administration Fee - Usually under $100

Prior to making your offer, get a thorough understanding of the real estate market near your property.  Know the value your property will be worth once it is redeveloped or renovated.  It probably doesn't make sense to put more money into your project than it will ever be worth when it comes time to sell.

Step 3 - Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

At this point you've inspected the property inside an out,  you've researched all your costs, and you understand the potential upside.  You're ready to make an offer.

Philly Landworks - Register for an account and look up your chosen property.

A. Once you've registered for an account at the Philly Landworks site, find the property you're interested in and complete an Expression of Interest form. You will need to submit supporting documentation as part of your application.  These typically include site plans, architectural drawings, elevation certificate, proof of insurance, and contracts or quotes for any work you expect will be needed.

B. You will then need to complete a Tax Status & Public Disclosure form and send via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail to PRA, 1234 Market Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

C. The city will notify the District Council person who will then need to approve your EOI.

D. The Revenue Department will then need to confirm tax clearance.

E. After clearing those steps the city will contact you.  They may request additional documentation such as additional plans and a more thorough explanation of your financing.

F. An agreement will be sent to you and the city will request a "good faith deposit" deposit.

G. Pay all related costs and attend the property settlement. 

H. Acquire any necessary permits and begin construction.  You are expected to begin construction within six months of closing.

I. Upon completion of your project, request a Certificate of Completion and a return of your deposit.

J. You now own the property free and clear.

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