Bidding was brisk Wednesday as 51 storm-damaged properties — 29 in Nassau and 22 in Suffolk counties — were sold for $10.2 million by New York Rising’s Acquisition for Re-Development Program.
The standing room only auction was the third round of sales of Long Island properties at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge. New York City properties were auctioned off for the first time the day before on Staten Island, where 61 properties, including two upstate, were sold for $9.9 million.
The acquisition program buys properties damaged in superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee at pre-storm values from homeowners who don’t wish to repair or elevate their homes. Most are then auctioned to buyers with the stipulation that within three years they be repaired and elevated according to local building and zoning codes.
While auction buyers can resell unrepaired properties to other buyers at a profit, title will revert to the state if repairs aren’t completed three years after the original auction closing. So far, the program has acquired 374 properties in Nassau and Suffolk counties and sold 338 for $56.2 million, including those sold last year in May and November auctions.
Houses in Massapequa sold quickly this time around, and for the highest prices. A Massapequa couple, who declined to give their names, were the top bidders with a $600,000 offer for a bay front property on Leewater Avenue not far from their own home. They intend to replace the damaged house with a new structure. “It’s always been our dream to live on the bay,” said the woman. “We have to tear it down first — it’s devastated — but not for a few years. We have to sell our house first.”
As usual, the buyers were a mix of hopeful homebuyers looking for a dream house on the water, and, more typically, contractors, real estate agents, investors and house flippers looking for a bargain. At least a few said they hadn’t found the bargains available in prior auctions.
“The last time I came, I got two houses on bigger lots for the same price as today,” said Noel Kistama of Five Boro Fire Restoration in Island Park, who picked up the last property on the board, a small house in Long Beach, for $90,000. “Everyone overbid today.”
And Michael Riglietti, a co-owner of MSR Electrical Construction Co. in Rockville Centre, who bought a piece of land in Island Park for $85,000, agreed, “There are no bargains here today. . . . Typically, the better properties went first at the higher prices, and you can justify that. But this time the lesser properties went at the higher prices too.”
Julian Giaquinto, a Seaford mortgage broker, passed up making any bids at all. “Everyone else overpaid,” he said, attributing the bids to the smaller inventory available this around. He bought an Oceanside property in the last auction, he said, and resold it as is to a builder for “a good amount of money.”
James Murphy, owner of J.I. Murphy, a home improvement company, his wife, Sharon, and daughter Ireland, 18, of Hicksville, won a waterfront Lindenhurst property on Hampton Road East with a bid of $185,000. “You never know until you get into it but based on the price and pre-storm value and location on a canal and the size of the house, I think there’s a lot of value,” Sharon Murphy said.
However, later, Murphy said that his wife had second thoughts about developing the house for resale: She may want to keep it. “We drove over after the auction and she loves it,” he said. “We’ll see what happens here, but she usually wins.”
For Celine Clarke, the decision to bid on a Lindenhurst house on South 6th Street to own as a rental property was not strictly a financial one, because it lies directly across a canal from her home. It “has special meaning to us. It’s not a flip for us: We want a steady family that we get to pick,” she said. “It’s a beautiful area and we want to keep it that way.”
Her husband is in the stone-restoration business and has contacts in the construction business, she said. “I feel like we’re doing something good,” she said. “It’s a rundown house, so it’ll be an opportunity to make it really nice.”
Tara and Anil Akyildirim of Rockville Centre said they’d rely on her father, Mel Farrell, who accompanied them and said he was experienced in real estate, to oversee work on their first investment property, in Freeport. “We’re trying it out, and we’ll see how it goes,” said Tara Akyildirim, joking, “If we go bankrupt, we go bankrupt.”
In a statement released after the auction, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, said, “Building on the success of the NY Rising Acquisition for Re-Development Program, this week’s auctions are another step forward in the State’s recovery and growth, making even more properties available for resilient redevelopment.”