The Belleville Historical Society was the successful bidder for a home in the city’s historic district at a delinquent property sale Wednesday night.
The group paid $6,500 for the house at 523 Abend Street, which was built in the late 1800s and served as a grocery store and home.
The final price was higher than the $5,000 members set aside to buy the house, but a “bulk buyer” who was bidding on several properties got into a brief war that drove up the price, Historical Society president Larry Betz said. The property came up near the tail end of the bidding, which lasted until midnight.
“We decided to go one last bid,” Betz said. The extra amount is “water under the bridge now.”
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The house in Belleville’s historic district was among about 300 properties that were put up for sale by St. Clair County, which took possession of them because of delinquent taxes.
The properties were from the 2014 property tax cycle and earlier. After homeowners failed to pay their real estate taxes for three years, and no one wanted to buy the tax liens against the properties, the county assumed ownership. The property sale, in which most homes started at $750 with no back taxes to pay, was held so the county could attract buyers and get the homes back on the tax rolls.
It was the first time that the Historical Society went to a county property auction, Betz said. He said that, despite submitting a down payment on the house, the group can’t renovate the property until a 60-day closing period expires.
“We’re a little disappointed,” he said, but “we’ll do what we can when we can.”
This has good curb appeal.
Historical Society President Larry Betz said of 523 Abend St.
The society’s goal now is to clean up the yard and make improvements to the roof, doors, windows and tuck-pointing before winter comes. Betz estimates the group will have to put between $5,000 and $8,000 into the renovations. Some members have agreed to loan the society some money to be put into the house. After making improvements to the property, the society plans to sell it.
“This has good curb appeal,” Betz said.
There aren’t too many German street houses left, he added. He hopes a renovated 523 Abend Street, which is near Washington School, will encourage others along the street to make improvements to their homes.
The average home sale at the auction was $4,000, said Bill Krieger, sales manager for Joseph E. Meyer and Associates Inc., which ran the event.
In all, 168 of the 300 homes were sold, and dozens had been removed from bidding before the auction began. Two of 43 available mobile homes were also sold. The sale took in $660,000, and the highest bid was for a one-story house at 302 S. 47th St. in Belleville, which sold for $24,000.
Although the sale was lower than the estimated $750,000 Krieger was hoping to sell, the event was overwhelmingly popular.
Krieger estimated that there were 300 people who crammed onto the fifth floor of the County Building. They filled every seat in the small auditorium where County Board meetings are held, filled the cafeteria behind it, and spilled out into the halls.
Even before the doors opened at 6:30 p.m., a lined formed outside the building. The auction didn’t get underway until after 7:30 p.m. Even then, not everyone was in place, as many still waited on the first floor to be processed by St. Clair County sheriff’s deputies, who provided security for the event.
Those attending expressed a variety of reasons for wanting to bid on the properties. Some wanted to flip the houses and some wanted to rent them out.
Sales are held quarterly, and the next one is set to take place in January, Krieger said.