Marblehead woman saves bundle on condo at auction

BOSTON – Linda Hanratty of Marblehead may have shelled out money for her own 50th birthday present, but she saved a bundle.At the Real Estate Disposition Corporation housing foreclosure auction at the Westin Copley Plaza Hotel on Saturday, Hanratty placed the winning bid of $77,500 on a single-bedroom, single-bathroom condominium with 683 square feet at 83 Pleasant St. in Marblehead. The unit was previously valued at $173,000 and bidding began at $5,000.”I’ve been watching this particular unit for a while,” said Hanratty, whose birthday was Sunday. “It’s exciting. Nothing has sold for under $100,000 in Marblehead in the past couple of years.”Hanratty wasn’t the only person who saved big bucks at the auction. A single-family, three-bedroom home in Coventry, RI that was originally priced at $307,500 sold for only $77,500. A similar home in Rutland, Mass. that had been priced at $205,100 sold for $85,085.Two homes in Lynn, a condo on South Street worth $134,000 and a three-bedroom single-family on Holly Avenue, which did not have a previous value listed, were scheduled for auction but withdrawn at the last minute. If the property at 15-19 South St. had gone to auction, the starting bid would have been a mere $500.Jeff Frieden, REDC’s chief executive officer, says his company auctioned 32,799 foreclosed homes totaling $3.4 billion up and down the East Coast last year.”When a house is vacant, everyone loses,” Frieden said. “When we put a family into a home, they’re paying a mortgage, property taxes, gas, electric and water bills and they’re hiring landscapers, painters and electricians – all of which helps the economy move forward.”Many of the homes for sale badly needed repairs, according to auction officials, and some were in such poor condition that banks would not finance them.Luckily for Hanratty, her new unit has only minor problems that she and her husband need to fix before renting the property.”It doesn’t need that much, mostly just a coat of paint,” she said.Auctioneers warned potential customers at the beginning of the event that a winning bid does not guarantee one’s ownership of a property because details have to be worked out.Outside of the hotel, wheelchair-bound Shirley Bester, 75, and her daughter Colleen Cappucci, 45, both of Marlboro, protested the auction by holding large signs, including one that read, “Buyer beware” and another that said, “They took my money but won’t sell my house.”The women claim they placed a $5,000 deposit toward a $29,000 total for a five-room house in Athol at an REDC auction in March, but the company decided to go with someone willing to pay a higher price several weeks later. They say the company has not returned their deposit despite numerous e-mails and phone calls.”They want to sell it to someone else, which is fine, but we want to get our money back,” Cappucci said.Frieden says more foreclosed houses are going to hit the market at ultra-low rates now that “the President’s moratorium is over.””We haven’t seen the end of this foreclosure crisis, not by a long shot,” he said. “It’s already stabilizing and when these groups of foreclosures are removed from the banks’ inventory and REDC places people back into homes, it will further fuel the economy.

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