Dozens of homes battered by Hurricane Sandy were auctioned off Tuesday the first sale of its kind in the city. The state got back less than it spent on the properties, but the auction promises to speed up the rebuilding after the storm. Staten Island reporter Amanda Farinacci has the story.
Angelo Mazzucco had never taken part in a real estate auction before.
So, when the Staten Island native showed up to a state-run sale of Sandy-damaged homes Tuesday, he didn't quite know what to expect.
When his offer on a single-family home in Midland Beach was accepted — he says he couldn't believe it.
"The adrenaline, I just, the guy looked at me, I'm like 'Oh! Ok!'" Mazzucco said.
More than 350 people came out to bid on 61 storm-damaged properties from around the city, including 56 on Staten Island.
Facing major repairs, the original owners sold them to the state rather than rebuild, under a federally financed program that gave them market or near market value.
Now the state is turning around and selling the homes.
Scores of potential buyers checked them out in open houses held last month.
"Sad story but great opportunity," said one man who bought a property at auction.
As part of the purchase agreement the government requires that the properties be elevated within the next 3 years to protect them from future storms.
That requirement may be the reason why most of the interested buyers were real estate developers and contractors — people who aren't fazed by having to rebuild a home and raise it least ten feet above sea level.
"We're looking to get land that we're already building houses next to it," said Chris Murphy who also purchased a property at auction.
"The price was right, you know, that's why we bought it," said Paul Singh.
"There really is a shortage of housing on Staten Island," said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, with the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery. "So the opportunity to buy a piece of property at a discount with the ability to raise the property completely and build up or rehabilitate and raise is really exciting to a lot of people."
The state spent $18 million buying the 61 properties, and got back about $10 million in Tuesday's auction.
A loss, but one officials say they expected.
Another auction will be held for storm-damaged properties on Long Island.
All of the money collected will go back into the state's storm recovery pot.