Over a hundred people attended the Schenectady County foreclosed property auction on Saturday at Schenectady County Community College, and left sending dozens of properties on their way back to generating tax revenue for the county.
The county has held the auction since 2008, and officials said since then they’ve returned more than 300 properties to the tax rolls throughout Schenectady, Duanesburg, Scotia, Glenville, Niskayuna and Rotterdam.
This year, 59 properties were set to go to the auction block, but due to last-minute redemptions or bankruptcy filings, only 48 were on offer, according to Randy Passonno, an auctioneer with Collar City Auctions Realty & Management Inc., who was hired to run the auction.
County officials said at the auction that the gross take for the county was $407,850. Only three of the 48 properties remained unsold, said Passonno, likely due to their small size and “landlocked” status, meaning that only adjacent property owners have access to the parcels.
Thirty-three of the original 59 properties were located in Rotterdam, seven in Niskayuna, three in Scotia, nine in Glenville and seven in Duanesburg. Two of the plots that did not sell are located in Glenville while the third is in Niskayuna. The smallest plot, in Niskayuna, was only 64 by 64 feet.
Overall, said Passonno, the auction this year was a success.
“Any year is a successful year that you can take properties that were delinquent in taxes and put them back on the tax rolls,” he said. “Normally there’s one or two stragglers left, like today the small ones, 64 by 64 foot landlocked parcels.”
Prospective property owners registered before the auction and received a yellow sheet of paper with an identifying number on it. Photos of the properties and relevant details were projected on a large screen in an auditorium at SCCC, and interested parties flashed their numbers when making a bid.
Passonno called the auction from the stage in the classic staccato chant of auctioneers throughout the country, a skill he picked up at Missouri Auction School and honed throughout 30 years in the business, he said.
Winning bidders were required to put 20 percent of the purchase price of a property down at the auction, and pay the remainder by Nov. 20, said Passonno. Properties purchased for $1,000 or less must be paid for in whole at the auction.
“We generate as much revenue back to the county coffers as we can. Overall it was a very successful auction,” said Passonno. “The goal is to get them back on the tax rolls and into responsible ownership.”
Fabio Urbano said he’s attended every foreclosure auction held by the county going back about five years. He and his father own a construction and electrical business and flip houses on the side.
“Two years ago, we bought six properties here, last year we bought two,” said Urbano. “You can get a really good deal on properties.”
Urbano just sold two homes in Rotterdam and Scotia that he and his father bought at the county auction last year. They have a house currently under construction and another one that’s been gutted and is awaiting renovation, he said.
He didn’t buy any houses this year because the selection wasn’t all that great, he said, and he didn’t want to stretch his finances too thin. He did bid on a few houses, but other people wanted them more, he said.
“There really weren’t too many houses. Usually there’s at least 30 houses, this year there was only maybe 10, 15 actual houses,” said Urbano. “We bought six a couple years ago and it’s stressful, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of money tied up.”
Most of the properties he and his dad buy are in rough shape.
“Ninety percent of the houses we buy we gut the whole house and start fresh,” he said, adding that from closing on a house bought at auction to gutting, renovating and selling it, the process usually takes six months to a year.
Urbano said any taxes owed to the county on a property bought at the auction get wiped out. He and his dad stick to the Schenectady County foreclosure auction because they live close by in Rotterdam.
“It’s very easy to work on a house when you’re in the same town, or very close by,” said Urbano. “That’s the main reason why I come here — because we live in this town, and we turn these properties that are run-down in nice neighborhoods and we put them back on the market where they should be.”
Plus, he added, it’s nice to drive around and see where his work has made the community a little brighter.
“It’s very rewarding. Not only does it help the town, but it helps the neighbors, everyone,” he said. “You’re giving the family a brand new house.”
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