Building Detroit

Battling blight with technology in Detroit’s neighborhoods


The Problem

To tackle Detroit’s blight issues, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan had an idea for an eBay-style auction website, so Detroiters could bid on unoccupied houses owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). In April 2014, the city transferred more than 16,000 properties to the DLBA, to be auctioned off to new homeowners.

The mayor and his team believed the online auction concept had legs, however, they needed technical help to convert the idea into a plan and marketing support to develop and implement a communications plan to spread the word. They turned to Dandelion.


The Solution

In less than 45 days, Dandelion built a robust technology platform that enabled visitors to view and place bids on available homes. Dandelion developed a technology platform that was able to verify that prospective purchasers met all of the bidding process requirements, validate incoming bids, and accept payment through a fully-integrated payment portal.

Additionally, Dandelion was engaged to develop a communications strategy to attract new residents to unoccupied homes — individuals and families who were committed to living in the homes they had purchased. The DLBA didn’t want third-party investors buying properties in bulk just to “flip them for cash”. Our team crafted the welcoming message “Neighbors Wanted.” With this, Dandelion designed billboards, posters, and other marketing collateral which was distributed throughout the city.

In the first 60 days, Building Detroit closed $1,435,400 in home auctions with an average home price of $22,000. At the time, the median home price in Detroit was $11,000. Dandelion continues to work closely with DLBA and manages the Building Detroit technology platform.