Buying a house or land is a big investment, and the more you know ahead of time the better chance you have of enjoying that purcase. How much can you really afford, how to pay for needed repairs, how do you plan for the costs of maintenance and repairs, how to choose the best realtor to represent you (and why you might need one). This page is created to provide resources for you.


  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City
    616 E. 63rd Street, Suite 200
    Kansas City, MO 64110
    Phone: (816) 822-7703
  • CHES, Inc. Corporate Office – Kansas City
    3125 Gillham Plaza, Kansas City, MO 64109
    Phone: 816.533.7417
  • Habitat for Humanity – Missouri Admin
    1423 E. Linwood Blvd.
    Kansas City, MO 64109
    Phone: (816) 924-1096
  • Another resource, if you have the time to dig in, is Money Smart KC
Image courtesy of RIdpath Creative

Tips for Acquiring Homes

Real-Estate and Private-Owner Properties

Search for Property – The first step is to determine what neighborhood you want to live in, your budget and price range, and what requirements you are looking for in a home (i.e. number of bedrooms and bathrooms, off-street parking, etc.) There are a number of resources available online that can walk you through the process. Once you find a property you are interested in conduct a general walk through to assess the overall conditions. An extra point – the person listed as a contact on the For Sale sign is under contract to represent the seller. If you contact them to tour a house, they may ask you any number of questions to prequalify you before they will show you the home. Let them know you will be working with your own agent, and and that agent will be cpntacting tehm if you decide to move forward.

Real Estate Agent – Hire a licensed real estate agent. Real Estate agents are subject matter experts and can guide you through the process. Make sure that you are hiring a buyer’s agent, since they will need to represent you when speaking to the seller and seller’s agent. Once again – the person listed as a contact on the For Sale sign is under contract to represent the seller, and is committed to making the best deal for the seller. Some agents may act as both, but since this is most likely one of the largest single purchases you will make, having an agent contracted to work for you is a worthwhile investment.

Make Offer – Once you find the home you like, make an offer based on the overall market and home conditions. This will most likely be done for you by your agent. Your licensed real estate agent can provide you with residential and neighborhood comparable prices for homes sold within the last six months and three miles of the desired property.

Enter into Contract – This is where you would finalize the purchase price, mortgage, or other financing and agree to terms and conditions. Your licensed real estate agent will walk you through this process.

Inspect Property – Hire a licensed home inspector after making an offer. This is a very important step. They will provide you with a written estimate of property conditions so the buyer is aware of the true condition of the home and potential improvements the buyer will need to make. The inspection report may also be used to help you negotiate the purchase price. Properties are typically sold in “As Is” condition.

Perform Title Search – Check public records for liens and outstanding taxes. A title company should be hired to perform a complete title search. Common liens include outstanding loan balances and contractor or mechanic liens. Do not assume the title is clear; it is important to make sure you understand the title situation.

Be Prepared to Close – Final payment is due at closing via wire transfer or cashier’s check.

Public Auctions

Register to Participate – Public auctions typically require buyer registration prior to the auction event.

Buyer Beware – Properties are sold in “As Is” condition. Properties are typically not available for inspection or viewing.

Tax Sale

Purchasing a Property from the Jackson County Tax Sale:

Note: When buying abandoned homes and lots properties are sold in “As Is” condition. Properties are typically not available for inspection or viewing.

  1. The first step in purchasing a tax foreclosure property is registering with the Department of Civil Process. The form below must be submitted and stamped no less than TEN (10) days prior to the tax sale. Their address is 1305 Locust Street, 2nd floor, Kansas City, MO 64106. You can do this by mail or deliver it in person.
  2. On this form, you’ll need to demonstrate that you don’t own real estate with two or more building or housing code convictions.
    • You will need to submit a Registration Form for each city in which you own real estate.
    • You cannot register if you have TWO (2) or more open violations on any properties registered to your name.
    • You also cannot have any convictions within the past two (2) years regarding any municipal building or nuisance violation.
  3. Once the form(s) is completed, submitted to the Dept. of Civil Process, and verified by the Collections Department (no action required for this part), you will receive a bidder number and verification by mail.
  4. Find the property you want at Jackson County, Missouri Tax Sale Property
    It is your responsibility to verify that the property they intend to buy is the correct one. Bidding goes by parcel number, not street address. It is recommended that you view the property in person. You will not be allowed to go on the property, however.For more information read:   Buying Tax Foreclosure Property
  5. In addition to the bidding price, buyers are responsible for any delinquent taxes, liens, special assessments, or other judgments on the property.
  6. Initial Bid prices are listed on the property viewer (Jackson County, Missouri Tax Sale Property). CASH, CASHIER’S CHECK, OR MONEY ORDER are the only forms of payment accepted at the Delinquent Land Tax Sale. Personal checks, company checks, credit cards, checks drawn on a credit card or line of credit from your bank will not be accepted. Bidders are advised to bring ample cash or certified funds payable to the Court Administrator to buy their researched property. Personal checks, business checks, and lines of credit will not be accepted. Successful bidders will not receive the deed to the property until the Circuit Court holds a confirmation hearing to make sure that no properties were sold for substantially less than their true value as determined by a professional appraiser.
Image courtesy of Ridpath Creative

Buy a Vacant Lot

Buying a Vacant Lot from Land Bank?

Property Search

Start by searching the map for available properties at KCMO Land Bank “Property Search” .  Then drive by the properties to see what they looks like in person.  Take time to look around the neighborhood and get a feel for what your neighbors are like.  Additional infomation about the adjacent properties can be found on the City website as well.

If you are considering using the property other than to build a home, check out UNI’s Guide to Working with Lots. As you visit each property, consider these issues that might come up because of how you choose to use it: zoning restrictions, impact on the community, neighborhood approval, environmental issues, floodplains, or special permits or licenses depending on your proposed use.

If you cannot see the lot from the street, contact the Land Bank and make an appointment to walk the property.  This can be done via telephone or in person at their office:

4900 Swope Parkway, 2nd Floor
Kansas City, MO 64130

(816) 513-9020

Next Step: Put Together Your Offer

After you have chosen the property you want, find out what the price is.  There are several programs for buying vacant lots from the Land Bank.  

  • Is the lot adjoining your residence? If yes, this may qualify for the $1 “side lot” program.
  • Other vacant lot prices are determined by size. Contact Land Bank for the price information.

Define the Scope of Repairs (also called “Scope of Work”)
This is your plan for the property. How much will it cost to clear trash and weeds? Are you installing a fence? Do you need to remove or repair retaining walls? How much will it cost to maintain the lot for three years?  Your Scope of Repairs will become your Deed of Trust if your offer to purchase is approved.  The value of this work can be taken off your “purchase price.”  Do the best you can.  With a vacant lot there hopefully aren’t a lot of hidden costs, but there can be surprises.  If you plan on adding a driveway, parking area, small shed, etc. it would be a good idea to look over the City’s website for the requirements for each of those accessory items.

Submit Your Application.

Apply in person and bring the following:

    • Proof of funds – You can use a bank statement, line of credit, or a combination of resources – just show how you will pay for the repairs.
    • Application fee – $25 plus $10 per additional applicant (your spouse or another person who will own the property with you).  This must be paid with a money order or cashier’s check
    • State or federal photo ID
    • Your completed scope of repairs (see above.)
        • Application for an individual or couple
        • Application for a business or nonprofit organization  – If you are a business or nonprofit, you will need to have your charter number and verify that your organization is in good standing with the Missouri Secretary of State.  If you are a Missouri business, that information can be found here.  Your completed application. Click on the links below to find your application. Print off the form that applies to you and bring it with you when you apply.  Additionally, you might need to submit a resolution if you have a board of directors. A corporate resolution is a document signed by the necessary officers and/or directors stating that the corporation has voted and approves this transaction. 
    • Application for “Side Lot Program”
    • A completed background check form.

After you submit your application:

Unless your property qualifies for the “Side Lot Program,” the Land Bank Board of Commissioners will vote to approve or deny your purchase. You may want to attend this meeting to discuss your plans for the property.

Depending on the volume of applications at the time you submit yours, this may take a few weeks to a few months. Please inquire with Land Bank for additional details on this time frame.

Purchase Approved? Research the Title!

    • If you are approved to purchase, consider ordering a title report or consulting a title company.
    • Consider your use for the property. If it is going to be used as a side lot or garden, title issues might not matter as much, but you will want to clear all title issues if you plan on building or otherwise investing significant value into the lot.
    • All Land Bank properties go through the tax sale process, which can make getting title insurance difficult depending on the property.
    • Coming soon! [ Title Research Guide]

The Land Bank will contact you to schedule a closing.

They will provide you with the closing documents:

  • Real estate sale contract (if applicable)
  • Deed of Trust (if applicable) – a deed of trust is a security instrument recorded on the property’s title to secure the performance of work. Mortgages are often secured by deeds of trust to ensure that the debts are repaid. In the event that work is not performed on the property, the Land Bank can foreclose on the property and regain ownership. The deed of trust will automatically expire in three (3) years from the date it is signed.
  • Special Warranty Deed – A special warranty deed is a deed in which the grantor warrants the title against defects in clear title occurring only during their ownership of the property. The grantor of a special warranty deed does not provide a warranty or guarantee against any defects in clear title that existed before their ownership.
  • You will be responsible for paying for recording fees. (Fees are determined by the number of pages of each document. See a complete breakdown here.)

Finally, carry out your scope of repairs!

Maintain your lot and pay property taxes.  If there is a Deed of Trust on the property, it will last for three years from the date of closing.  If you need to sell the property before the expiration of the three years, the new purchaser may be able assume the Deed of Trust. Contact the Land Bank directly for more nformation.

the deed to the property until the Circuit Court holds a confirmation hearing to make sure that no properties were sold for substantially less than their true value as determined by a professional appraiser.

Buy A Home

A Guide to Financial Resources Available