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Posted on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

'Last chance' online auction for unsold tax-foreclosed properties under way in Washtenaw County

By Paula Gardner

All the properties ended up in Washtenaw County's control after tax foreclosures. And all of them went through previous auctions to find a buyer.

Then this morning, the county's "last chance" online auction started with opening bids as low as $350 to generate sales — and funds to reimburse local governments for years of unpaid taxes.

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Wellesey Gardens has no takers so far.

So far, all of the 14 residential properties are generating bids. But what's been defined as the most valuable parcel — 33 unbuilt acres in Wellesley Gardens condo complex in Pittsfield Township — so far has no takers.

The price drop for Wellesley Gardens: The minimum bid fell from $1.2 million in September to $7,350 this week on

The slow response from a buyer signals what many builders say is a glut of undeveloped lots in the county, where a building boom drove land acquisition, but the boom's falloff left many holding property that could take years to build-out.

Still, the property's location in the Ann Arbor school district and near the population hub of the county is likely to be among the first areas to rebound — making its sale at auction a likely indicator of the value of the county's vacant land.

Beyond Wellesley Gardens, 21 undeveloped properties are available. Of them, five attracted bids in the first four hours of the auction. The highest price so far: $1,500 for 2054 Taft in Ypsilanti Township.

Bidding on the undeveloped property ends from noon to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, depending on the property.

Meanwhile, of the six commercial properties up for bid, three have offers. As of midday, part of the Uptown Village development, 31 acres on Arkona Road in the city of Milan, has two bids — and so far is selling for $450. The two attracting the minimum $350 bid are 205 S. Hewitt and 2041 Parkwood, both in Ypsilanti Township.

Bidding for the commercial properties ends near noon Friday.

Active bidding on the residential properties will end Wednesday — including the noncontiguous 63 townhomes at Liberty Square in Ypsilanti Township. The units have been condemned by the township, and two bidders have taken the current price up to $450.

As of mid-afternoon today, the fire-damaged house at 2 Faust Court in Ann Arbor is the highest-priced with a bid of $2,300.

County Treasurer Catherine McClary says winning bidders must pay all 2010 taxes owed on the parcels.



Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

snapshot, can you back up your claim?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:11 p.m.

Property values are sinking like a rock in deep water and the Ann Arbor Assessor is keeping property taxes artificially high to minimize the loss of tax revenue. Public service? Public servant? How about public rip off?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:48 p.m.

Two different issues. Short answer: the housing market is comparatively free, prices rise and fall reflecting natural market forces like supply and demand, to name two. The medical industry though, is highly regulated, and many of the laws were written by medical industry lobbyists, while being largely disguised as pro-consumer. Normal, natural market forces are suppressed. Were they not suppressed, you could bank on the fact that medical prices would drop when demand for services dropped. It's a shame, really. So many deserve so much more than what they are getting.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

? Why is it when people can no longer afford their homes --- the price falls. When people can no longer afford health insurance --- the price goes up?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 7:30 p.m.

Well, the elephant in the room is wondering how these practically value-less sales will affect the entire rest of the market, especially in terms of taxable value, and future sales prices. Many US properties in the 1930s fell over 90% in price. It's going to be interesting...