Property inventories

Cleveland Property Survey

Cities need data concerning vacant properties and building conditions to make informed decisions regarding the use of limited resources for demolition and rehabilitation.

Property inventories have become important tools for communities across the state. Western Reserve Land Conservancy has now completed property inventories in Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, Elyria, Lorain, Oberlin, and Sandusky.



How we conduct property inventories

By preparing and conducting property inventories/surveys, Western Reserve Land Conservancy can provide cities, townships and villages with information to most effectively target their limited resources, especially in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. We recognize the importance of accurate and reliable data by which to assess a community’s housing stock and have focused the survey criteria accordingly. This criteria varies depending on the community, but the general questions include:

  • Is the structure vacant or occupied?
  • Is the structure for sale?
  • Are there any code violations on the property?
  • Is there a street tree on the property?
  • What grade does the structure merit (A-F, based on a traditional grading scale)?

Surveyors in the field answer these questions for every parcel, entering their responses into mobile devices equipped with a program to store and send data to our server. Our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff processes the data to compile interactive maps, which provide an overview of the survey area, with parcels color-coded to represent where they fall on the spectrum from vacant to occupied. Each individual parcel contains a package of information, including a photo, all of the data we have collected and other publicly available property data. These maps inform the planning process by helping officials visualize problem areas, identify trends and guide decision-making.

Our work

When the city of East Cleveland needed to find out which structures in the municipality were candidates for demolition, it turned to Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities program for help.

Our staff worked with the city, residents and a community group, Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope, to survey all 7,100 parcels in East Cleveland. Using mobile devices, surveyors hired and trained by the Land Conservancy went home-to-home using sidewalks and public rights-of-way, grading the condition of each structure, noting whether or not it was occupied and snapping an image of it.

Less than 10 percent of East Cleveland’s occupied stock was in poor condition (i.e., rated “D” or “F”), meaning that, contrary to some perception, the city has a sound housing stock around which it can build future strategies. Conversely, the survey found 75 percent, or 1,033, of East Cleveland’s vacant structures were in poor condition (“D” or “F”) and are prime targets in the city’s strategic demolition going forward. Knowing the current condition of these structures, city officials can now make more informed planning decisions.

The Process: Hamilton, OH

In April 2021 the City of Hamilton, Ohio requested a Property Inventory Report from the Thriving Communities office. Using the Regrid app produced by Loveland, a team of surveyors we contracted with completed the city-wide survey between mid-May and mid-July 2021. Afterwards, the Urban Projects team at Thriving Communities reviewed the survey entries for accuracy, mapped the data, and conducted a property inventory analysis. Hamilton’s parcels were analyzed largely by vacancy, structural condition, code violations, dumping, and land-use. The report contains parcel maps at the neighborhood-scale and city-wide scale and data tables at the city-wide overview of parcels conditions and uses as well as neighborhood-level analysis. The report concluded with written recommendations based on the analysis of Regrid data, from investment in home repair programs to prevent further structural distress in the future, adoption of greening initiatives similar to Reforest Our City and Ground Work, and targeted neighborhood stabilization efforts in areas with a greater portion of distressed structures, instances of dumping, and rates of vacancy.