The largest crowd in recent memory showed up at Wednesday night’s Youngstown City Council meeting, then cheered when a new law regulating land contracts was passed.
Every seat was filled, many were standing and some were even in the hall — about 75 people.
The vast majority were in support of the law regulating land installment contracts specifically aimed at predatory lending.
“As we know, predatory lending not only blight our neighborhoods, but they put the most vulnerable of our citizens in our community at risk,” said Dr. Rosie Taylor, ACTION (Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing our Neighborhoods) board member.
A house on E. Lucius Avenue, which has since been demolished, was used by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation as an example of how companies like Vision Property Management, of South Carolina, would advertise uninhabitable houses for $12,000.
“The purchase prices of some of these properties are exorbitant. They’re ridiculous,” said Youngstown Pastor Derrick Anderson.
The new law requires sellers to bring a house up to code, provide a title search and have the property appraised. It eliminates an automatic transfer back to the owner if the buyer doesn’t pay and also gives buyers the right to fight problems through the courts.
“There are a lot of things in there that banks choose to do but they’re not legally required to do,” said Jeff Rickerman, president of the Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investors Association.
He asked that the law be tabled so his group could have a say.
Realtor Tom D’Amico was specific about which parts of the law he was opposed to.
“Like having a home inspection and brought it up to code. If you buy a home through a bank, you have that option of doing it. It’s not a requirement,” he said.
While the realtors claim it’ll be harder to sell homes in Youngstown, Law Director Jeff Limbian disagrees.
“There were no secrets about us working on this for nearly a year now, and they could have voiced concerns and they didn’t because there are no concerns,” Limbian said.
Youngstown City Council will meet again Thursday at 5 p.m. to learn more about its budget situation and how the city’s finances look for the rest of the year.