Dozens of storm-damaged Long Island properties, stretching from the Five Towns to the Hamptons, will be open for inspection over the next three weeks by prospective buyers who may snap up the distressed units at auction in May.
The series of daylong "open houses" at state-acquired houses and lots, which starts Monday and continues on weekdays through April 30, comes nearly 2 1/2 years after superstorm Sandy ravaged the Island in October 2012, striking South Shore communities particularly hard.
The properties are among some 700 bought through the acquisitions program of NY Rising, the state agency created with federal funds to handle sale, repair and reconstruction of properties damaged by Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
This first batch of 150 houses and lots comprises 81 in Nassau County and 69 in Suffolk County. Of those, 42 properties are excluded from the viewing schedule because they have been deemed unsafe or consist only of land, officials said.
To be acquired by the state, the properties had to be declared "substantially damaged" -- that is, with damage amounting to more than 50 percent of their pre-storm market value.
"We have a fantastically significant task ahead of us, to show 150 properties in a short timeline," said Misha Haghani, owner of Paramount Realty USA of Garden City and Manhattan, which is handling the open houses and auction. "That's no small task."
The auction is scheduled May 19 and 20 at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge.
On its website, prusa.com, the auctioneer, has a schedule of the open houses and lists the starting bid prices for the properties, with many significantly below pre-Sandy market value.
In Mastic Beach, for example, a three-bedroom "water-view" ranch at 21 Lincoln Dr. has a starting bid of $27,950. The house had a pre-storm value of $130,000, the auctioneer said.
Serious buyers must register online at Paramount Realty's website and pay $50 for access to detailed information about the properties, including title information, appraisals, surveys, photos and terms of sale.
Haghani said he expects prospective buyers to include contractors, builders and families.
The auctioneer cautioned property seekers to dress appropriately in clothing suited to navigating homes that may pose some hazards: All were storm-battered, and some have been flooded and neglected since the storm hit. He said he advises people to bring flashlights.
The itinerary is set up to allow each unit to be open for inspection twice. Open houses are organized in three-hour slots, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. each day, with some overlap in the time segments.
Monday, properties in Aquebogue, Brookhaven, Hampton Bays, Mastic Beach, Patchogue, Sayville and St. James are scheduled to be open for viewing.
Over the course of the next 10 days, the open houses continue on the East End and then stretch west, primarily along the South Shore, reaching Freeport, Long Beach, Island Park and the Five Towns communities of Lawrence and Inwood by April 22.
The viewings then are scheduled to move eastward, ultimately ending on April 30 where they began, with Mastic Beach, Aquebogue and Hampton Bays properties.
In a news release last month announcing the auction, NY Rising said it had closed on 92 properties valued at more than $36.4 million in Nassau and 79 properties valued at $31.2 million in Suffolk. The median payment for those homes was more than $395,000.
Officials said proceeds from the auctions will be used in accordance with the state's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Action Plan. The plan, which outlines use of federal block-grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, includes requirements for allocations for multifamily affordable housing and public housing assistance relief.
"These properties have been damaged for some time now," Haghani said. "Getting them back in the hands of private owners who are going to restore them is a very important objective."