Land Bank property at 1529 Marengo Ave. | Courtesy Cook County Land Bank Authority

A house in Forest Park is up for sale through a new initiative, called the Homebuyer Direct Program, launched by the Cook County Land Bank Authority this fall. The program has made available between 30 and 40 fixer-upper houses at below-market prices in certain areas of Cook County. The homes range from $50,000 to $170,000.

“In launching this new program, the Land Bank Authority will play a transformative role in building strong and sustainable communities,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a statement.

Typically, the CCLBA sells the delinquent, vacant or abandoned properties it controls to developers. The new program, however, “lets CCLBA reach out directly to the homebuyers, who then can guide the development process (including the schedule, choice of contractors and aesthetic choices about the rehab) in accordance to their preference,” according to a statement released by Land Bank last month.

The fixer-upper available through the Homebuyer Direct Program in Forest Park is located at 1529 Marengo Ave. 

According to Redfin, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom property, is priced at an estimated $178,000, which is the same as the Land Bank’s minimum offer price.

A spokesperson with the CCLBA said she’s currently working on reaching out to CCLBA leadership for an explanation on that particular minimum offer price and for information about the condition of the home. 

According to an FAQ on the Land Bank’s website, the authority prices the homes “below the market value using comparable sales information from the Multiple Listing Service. In the unlikely event that the home appraises for less than the offer price, the Land Bank will review the appraisal and consider an adjustment to the purchase price, if warranted.”

Prospective homebuyers who are financing the purchase of the homes should have a pre-approval letter from their lender. If they’re paying with cash, they should provide proof of funds. Interested homebuyers can offer less than the minimum offer price and there are no income restrictions.

The Land Bank does require a $1,000 application fee, in the form of a certified check, which it applies as a credit at the close of purchase. The Land Bank works with a range of “lending partners” associated with the program and also offers to help identify qualified contractors who homebuyers may hire for rehab work, among other resources.

According to Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th), the Land Bank’s chairwoman, the direct buyer program “builds upon the Land Bank’s mission to reduce the number of vacant buildings by filling them with not just residents but homeowners, especially in communities hit hardest by the mortgage crisis.”

Rob Rose, the Lab Bank’s executive director, said the program assists people who may have hopes of purchasing a fixer-upper but may be intimidated “by logistical, financial or other obstacles.”

“This program helps those prospective homebuyers and targets neighborhoods where the mortgage crisis stifled a lot of community potential,” Rose said in a statement.

To see a list of properties available through the direct buyer program or for more information, visit: