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Tax deed sales and land banking to reuse vacant and abandoned properties

Yasuyuki Fujii (Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, Hamamatsu, Japan)

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis

ISSN: 1753-8270

Article publication date: 11 September 2020

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




Tax sales intersect with the market, housing policy and socioeconomic matters, but the topic in this context is understudied. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether and how land banking is more effective in fostering positive property outcomes than tax lien sales and what market-based measures can be combined with land banking to reuse tax delinquent, vacant and abandoned properties.


This paper analyzes the consequences of tax lien sales and land banking in Indianapolis, Indiana, the USA. Various local data sources are used.


This paper finds that land banking, when compared to tax lien sales, results in less tax delinquency, less vacancy and abandonment, more increase in assessed value and fewer ownership changes after sales. Also, this paper shows the contributions of non-profit and for-profit developers as business partners to land banks.

Practical implications

This paper demonstrates the utility of the land banks that have become prevalent in some states in the USA over the past 20 years. The results of this paper recommend the realistic approach of combining government intervention and market forces.

Social implications

This paper sheds light on the US practice of tax lien sales. It goes largely unnoticed, but malpractice risks harming the vulnerable members of community.


Housing policy needs to find common ground with the market. It is a dilemma, more or less, for every country. The results of this paper suggest a harmonized public policy approach that includes land banking and the market can be effective in combatting with troubled properties.



The author is grateful to the Department of Metropolitan Development, the City of Indianapolis and Renew Indianapolis to take care of the author’s research questions. Also, the author thanks Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow, Center for Community Progress, Steven J. Bass, Partner, Orion Partners Japan, and Jack Ryan, Professor, Shizuoka University of Art and Culture for their comments on previous drafts.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The author declares no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding: This research was conducted with a grant from the Foundation of Global Life Learning Center, Tokyo, Japan and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (19K04790).


Fujii, Y. (2021), "Tax deed sales and land banking to reuse vacant and abandoned properties", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 596-612.



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