BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo's three-day tax foreclosure sale at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center could turn out to be one of the city's most lucrative foreclosure auctions in recent history.
The auction attracts investors and entrepreneurs from other cities, and around the world because of Buffalo's relatively low real estate prices but prospective bargain hunters are finding out why the Queen City is considered one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.
The day started with thousands of bargain hunters looking to bid on thousands of tax-foreclosed properties, but the pool of the more valuable residential property quickly dwindled as homeowners negotiated payment plans to get their homes off the auction block.
In some cases those bargains didn't turn out to be such great deals. Bidder James Smith brought extra money, but would still get outbid, "So far I've got a couple vacant lots, but I am looking for a house, and so far, I have not had any luck. We will see what happens."
Many of the stronger bids came from out-of-town investors, in some cases, foreign businesses with deep pockets. A number of vacant neglected properties even generated bidding wars, such as an old house, with peeling paint, overgrown weeds, and broken windows on the East Side that sold for
Former Buffalo resident Michele Barnett-Occhino came from Connecticut, and found the bids even higher than in some big cities such as Atlanta where, "the housing stock and the pricing were much more competitive and reasonable. Here, it was not as reasonable as I had assumed or thought it would be. I had a couple of properties in mind and got outbid on all of them."
Also included in the mix was the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC), known as the "Land Bank" which is granted exclusive "super bid" authority to buy properties with potential--in some cases "zombie" homes--and make sure they get into the right hands.
The Land Bank's Program Coordinator, Alex Carducci said BENLIC targets properties that will help stabilize neighborhoods, "They are going to primarily be residential properties. We are going to resell them to responsible buyers, after we have done some stabilization work, or rehab work, to improve the properties."
City officials also pointed out the number of homeowners negotiating last-minute deals to remove their homes from the auction block also seems to be up, but those payment plans to catch up on back taxes come with high interest rates.
Buffalo's foreclosure sale continues through Wednesday and Thursday at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. For more information on the auction, here is a link to the website.