Binghamton, Broome auction off property

By Lorne Fultonberg

April 14, 2013 Updated Apr 14, 2013 at 10:36 AM EDT

Binghamton (WBNG Binghamton) The city of Binghamton helped make Saturday's Broome County Real Property Tax Foreclosure Auction one of the largest in years.

More than 200 bidders bartered for 106 pieces of property.

"I think people come to (auctions), one because they're looking for a deal on a property and two because a lot of them are people that like to do fix-ups, turn them over, resell them," said Kevin Keogh, Broome County Director of Real Property. "Or they're first time home buyers and they want to find a place they can work on themselves."

The county holds two auctions every year for properties that have been foreclosed. But Saturday that auction included around 40 properties owned by the city of Binghamton that it had ruled unsafe and demolished.

"We're basically reducing the amount of land our parks department has to mow and maintain," said Tarik Abdelazim, director of the city's Planning, Housing and Community Development. "So we're reducing the cost to taxpayers, but more importantly it's returning these lots back over to the neighbors in the area. Now they can improve their market value, expand their yards and preserve it as green space for their kids."

The city's properties are a result of a blight prevention effort, Abdelazim said -- eliminating properties that decline due to tough economic times and emigration, among other things.

Thanks to New York state grants, the city of Binghamton demolished 80 to 90 structures that it deemed unsafe. It's a program that Abdelazim says is paying dividends.

"We secured prices in the thousands that we never expected," he said. "So I think that was one instance in which returning this to the competitive market turned very favorable to the taxpayers."

The city did its best to promote the auction and sell its properties, selling direct mailers to all the properties adjacent to those being auctioned.

After all, Keogh said, the goal of any tax auction is to make back the money the county didn't collect from the property owners on whom it had to foreclose.