IMPACT
01/05/2012 09:38 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2012

Foreclosure: Charities See Huge Increase In Home Donations

Forget collecting coins in a red kettle -- charities are increasingly netting donated homes as a result of the foreclosure crisis.

And the trend is likely to to continue. USA Today reports that Bank of America donated 150 homes in 2011 and plans to donate more than 1,200 next year. Wells Fargo donated almost four times as many homes this year compared to last. And Habitat for Humanity almost doubled the number of donated homes that it's rehabbed in the year ending last June.

"It's a win, win, win" Rebecca Mairone, head of Bank of America's donation program, told USA Today. Those three "wins" include one for the neighborhood where the house is located, one for the bank, and one for the investor.

By donating homes -- typically of low value -- owners rid themselves of a mortgage and the expenses that go with upkeep, as well as earn tax breaks for their donation. Depending on who the home is donated to, it might be torn down, refurbished or rebuilt completely.

In some places home donations are becoming too popular. CrainsDetroit.com reports that in Detroit, nearly 98 percent of homes offered are declined, as many are too rundown. And as home donation inquiries increase, some charities are still figuring out what they can and cannot accept.

“We had to kind of look at our policy on accepting house donations,” William Brazier, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit, told CrainsDetroit.com.

But saying "no" to that many home donations still puts most nonprofit organizations and banks ahead of the game. Nonprofit News reports that Real Estate Donations, a division of the West Dundee, Ill.-based nonprofit Restoration America, is still taking advantage of the upward shift in donations.

By November, the group had closed on its 101st donated home of 2011. Charles Konkus, president of Real Estate Donations told the news source that was "way ahead" of the 73 last year.

-

WATCH related video:

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.

CONVERSATIONS