Friday, October 15, 2010

The auction

Our neighbors' house that I wrote about here was auctioned off on Tuesday. The auction company arrived early Tuesday morning and started putting all the neighbors' unwanted worldly goods out on the lawn and driveway for later bidding. Luckily the day was relatively sunny and no rain was forecast.

 When John arrived home from work, we walked down and by then, there was a string of cars parked along our street as far as we could see. I was astounded that so many people came out to bid on their household items and the house. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to see all your possessions laid out so matter-of-factly for others to inspect, judge and ultimately purchase. The feeling I had was of personal violation rather than garage sale.
There was a professional auctioneer and he proceeded down the rows of household items as the crowd followed him, raising their cards and bidding. He stopped at 5:15 and began the auction of the home itself.

The wife of the couple came back from their new city for the auction and, predictably, was a bundle of nerves. She had spoken to us earlier and then went into the house during the auction itself. I was glad she wasn't witnessing it firsthand.

The auction started briskly at $50,000 and then quickly climbed to $95,000. It flagged a bit and the bidding narrowed down to three parties (only five parties in total had qualified to bid for the house itself). The bidding proceeded more slowly and eventually stopped at $113,000. This is a house that was appraised for taxes at $162,700. I don't know what they paid for it but I'm sure it was more than $113K. The house was sold in less than 10 minutes tops and they covered the mortgage and home equity loan.

They had lived there 19 years and pfffffffft! -- that fast it was gone. That's what they wanted, to not have the house languish on the market. (The real estate market in our area isn't in the terrible shape as it is in other parts of the country but then again, we don't have the high real estate prices or the sudden drops. We're certainly not insulated from real estate issues but we don't have the roller coaster effect as other areas do.)

However, we feel lucky that the couple who purchased the house are young and have a baby daughter. So it's not a speculator who'll invest a minimal amount and then flip the house or rent it to potentially untenable tenants.

It was weird being there and trying to understand what the wife must be experiencing. I seriously cannot imagine what my emotions would be if all our possessions had been exposed for this type of sale. I can't help but think that it would feel a lot like failure.

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