, Newburyport, MA

September 14, 2013

Tax auction nets $319K



---- — SALISBURY — It took about an hour for auctioneer Paul Zekos to sell 13 of the 14 tax title properties up for sale on Thursday, netting $319,000 for Salisbury residents on parcels that were taken by the town after years of unpaid taxes.

Starting at noon at Colchester Auditorium at Salisbury Town Hall, town Treasurer Christine Caron said bidders showed up early to register for the auction, creating a line that wound down the corridor by 11:15 a.m. And there were a number of local bidders, she said.

“We had a capacity crowd with standing room only,” said Zekos, of the Zekos Group Auctioneers. “The auction exceeded the goals the town set. We were all very pleased with the results.”

Zekos said the amount raised went beyond expectations and brought in a one-time sum of cash to town offers. Taken for back taxes and owned by the town, these properties hadn’t been producing any tax revenue for the budget for years, he said. Now sold, they’ll go back on the tax rolls, Zekos said, bringing in annual revenue to help support the community.

Zekos and Caron were both very pleased with the selling price for the properties.

“We had very competitive, spirited bidding,” Zekos said. “I think it shows that Salisbury is a good community and people are beginning to have more faith in the real estate market.”

Winning bidders also pay a premium of 10 percent of the purchase price to offset the costs of running the auction, Zekos said, as well as a $1,175 legal fee. Both are added to the winning bid, which raises the cost, but he insisted that those who made purchases on Thursday, got good deals.

The largest money maker was the property at 9 Bartlett Street, which sold for $100,000. One of four highlighted properties in the auction, the parcel included a neglected home.

Two other buildable lots, three-quarters of an acre at 55 Seabrook Road, and .4 acres at 69 Rabbit Road, were sold for prices of $42,000 and $45,000 respectively. Two lots on Jak-Len Drive totaling 2.76 acres sold together for $22,500.

But it was a 1-acre, four-lot parcel on Cable Avenue that sold for the unexpected price of $65,000, which surprised many, Caron said. Although each is listed as a buildable lot, the land has a history of wetlands-related environmental issues and an involvement with the Department of Environmental Protection.

Nearly nine acres at 99 Rabbit Road sold for $10,000, and 8.7 acres at 45 Dock Lane went for $9,000. Two land-locked parcels on Rear Pike Street went for $1,000 each, and another for $18,500.

The town even sold most of the salt marsh acreage up for sale. The Barberies, an 8-acre parcel of wetlands that outlets to the Merrimack River sold for $2,500, a 15-acre salt marsh parcel in Great Meadows sold for $2,000, and the a 6-acre Great Meadows lot sold for $500.

Only one property up for auction -- two acres of salt marsh in Tide Meadows -- was left unsold.

According to Caron, the town is in the process of taking other local properties due to years of unpaid taxes. All those cases are still in Land Court, she said, and not finalized. When they are, another auction could take place, she said.