NEWBURYPORT — One of the city's largest undeveloped parcels of land remains on the market after an auction yesterday inside the only house at Oleo Woods development failed to find a suitable buyer.
About four people out of the roughly 40 who filled the living room of 7 Russell Terrace Ext., offered bids during the 90-minute auction conducted by John McInnis Auctioneers of Amesbury.
McInnis said the owner of the property, Norbert Carey, turned down the highest bid of $1.1 million for both the 43-acre parcel and the house. That's not counting McInnis' commission of 10 percent of the sale price, which would have brought the total to $1,210,000 million.
"We didn't meet the seller's expectation today, but there's still a fair amount of interest," McInnis said.
The land is assessed for tax purposes at $1.1 million.
Carey is looking to sell the property after winning hard-earned approval from the city's Planning Board in 2007 to build 23 single-family homes on eight acres of land. The remaining acres would be preserved as open space. The land is located near Interstate 95 off Low Street. The only access to the land is Russell Terrace, which is off Storey Avenue, and ends at the beginning of Carey's property.
McInnis said those who expressed interest in the property are looking for contingencies from the owner, opening the possibility that a sale may be completed before too long.
"We will get the property sold in the end," McInnis said.
It appeared most of those who came to yesterday's auction were more curious about the outcome than actually purchasing the property. Some were dressed in suits and ties while others wore work boots and baseball caps. Several realtors were in the crowd, many wearing Bluetooth phone devices and others tapping messages on their BlackBerrys.
Julie Gerraughty-Rubino of Newburyport, arriving a few minutes before the 1 p.m. start time, said she came because she was interested in the house.
"Always looking for a bargain," she said, before ducking out of the bitterly cold air and into the empty, yet warm house.
Yesterday's auction was split into three parts. First, bids were accepted for the 43 acres of land with a starting bid of $1.5 million. No one made a move until McInnis asked for $500,000. The bid was increased to $600,000 and then $650,000 before McInnis held the auction.
Next the auction shifted to the single-family house at 7 Russell Terrace Ext. McInnis set the price at $500,000 but quickly went down to $250,000 before Mark Wojcicki of Wojcicki McPartland Development of Amesbury placed a bid. Wojcicki upped his bid to $325,000 before the bidding was halted by McInnis.
McInnis then called for bids for both the land and house. Bids began at $1.5 million but again, there was very little activity coming from the crowd. When the price dropped down to $1.1 million, only one person offered a bid.
McInnis called for a 5-minute recess before returning to the living room and asking the crowd for additional bids. When no one spoke up, McInnis called for another recess.
"Boy, I knew money was tight, but not this tight," McInnis said.
After a much longer delay, McInnis returned saying the seller had rejected the $1.1 million offer and that the auction was over.
Afterward, a noticeably disappointed McInnis said auctions aren't a guaranteed method towards selling real estate.
"It's just part of the (real estate) business," McInnis said.