The City of Niagara Falls is taking care of zombie homes, one house at at time.
Tuesday night 11 proprieties owned by the city were sold to the highest bidder at a live public auction.
Bidders had to agree to a few conditions before purchasing the properties.
Each buyer is required to live in the home for five years and renovate it within the first year. Owners cannot tear the houses down or rent them out.
Officials say it’s the city’s way of weeding out slumlords and vacant zombie homes.
“So making sure slumlords don’t purchase properties at tax foreclosures which happens. We want to stop that, we want homeowners to have a first crack at houses,” said Seth Piccirillo, Director of Community Development for the City of Niagara Falls.
The main goal of the auction is to promote home ownership while also improving existing neighborhoods.
The homes were sold at a fraction of their value.
The live auction drew dozens of people, many walking away with a home for less than $15,000.
Michael Barry, a Niagara Falls resident, out bid a home he’s been eyeing up for quite some time. He says the house will need at least $30,000 in renovations.
“The house right now is boarded, it looks like a scary movie, there’s vines growing all over the place, broken windows, glass all over, the fence is torn apart,” said Barry.
His new house sits directly behind the home he grew up in. It backs up to his father’s property.
Through this auction, he’s one of many families who will be able to boost a city neighborhood that needs it most.
“The neighbors are going to be more than happy. They’re happy to finally see the house go to somebody, it’s been sitting there for 10 years,” said Barry.
Each buyer will have to pay the 2017-2018 school tax, the 2018 city tax and the Niagara County tax on the properties.
After the required five years, the homeowners are allowed to sell the properties.