Lucas County auctions over 300 properties

For $200, friends Nic Botek, Colleen Eldridge, and Monika Perry started to make their dream a reality Thursday.

The three acquired two vacant parcels during the annual Lucas County auditor’s forfeited land auction held in the county commissioners’ hearing room.

The two women embraced and shed tears of joy in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room while Mr. Botek went up to pay the bill and claim the deed to 400-406 Irving St., at Horton Street in the Collingwood Springs area near downtown.

“It’s just the first step,” Ms. Eldridge said. “We wanted to buy land last year but we missed the auction so we’ve just been on pins and needles. The ones we bid on were the ones we’ve been planning for over a year.”

The auction of land forfeited to the state for nonpayment of taxes raised $55,476 and put 26 forfeited parcels back into private hands. The proceeds, after expenses, will be distributed to the school districts and other agencies that received property taxes.

In all, 342 properties were offered for sale at starting bids of $100, plus a $74 fee. Of those 342 parcels, 19 had buildings. Another 121 parcels were taken off the list before Thursday’s auction by the Lucas County Land Bank, which will try to market them to users.

Development plans

Mr. Botek, 29, and Ms. Eldridge, 32, are a couple, and are friends with Ms. Perry, 22, who is finishing up a degree at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Mr. Botek is the new property owner.

Monika Perry, left, Colleen Eldridge, and Nic Botek stand in front of the two vacant parcels at the corner of Horton and Irving streets that they bought during the Lucas County auditor’s forfeited land auction on Thursday.

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Their plan is to build an “off-the-grid” house on the two parcels and grow a garden. The house will be built with natural materials, including straw bales, and will be powered from sunlight and wind and will have rainwater collection. It will be about 1,000 square feet on the one-third-acre lot.

Ms. Eldridge said people are building off-the-grid houses around the country and the friends helped build one earlier this year in Yellow Springs.

They like the site because it’s close to the Toledo Museum of Art and friends of theirs live nearby.

And, of course, you can’t beat the price.

Also picking up a parcel at a bargain price was Sam Rumpf, 24. He was in a bidding contest with another man for 933-935 N. Summit St., and the price escalated from $100 to $15,100.

Mr. Rumpf, who works in his father, Bruce Rumpf’s business, Job1 USA, is getting started in real estate development. He just acquired 927 N. Summit next door.

Mr. Rumpf said he walked through the one he bought before he bid on it.

“It was not in the best shape. We might have to demolish,” he said. “There’s always going to be a need for parking.”

He plans on living in 927 Summit, which has one and a half baths and a built-in bar with stools for eight and a Miller Beer mirror on the wall.

“It’s Vistula. I definitely think it has a lot of promise with that huge master plan” that was produced by the 22nd Century Committee. Mr. Rumpf said he doesn’t expect an immediate explosion in value tomorrow.

“If it was tomorrow I’d be paying a lot more for it,” he said. He said it was his first time buying a building at auction and it was paid for with cash.

Property pickings

Paul Parker, who invests in real estate with his brother, Larry Parker, a general contractor, bought seven properties for $7,500. One of his buys is 351 Bancroft St., an 8,000-square-foot commercial building at Ashland Avenue.

He said he’s been coming to the auction for seven years and looks for properties that can be flipped quickly. He also works part-time as a youth advocate and as a boxer.

As soon as the auction started, at 10 a.m., Mr. Parker, 31, expressed his opinion that the Land Bank had snagged all the best properties. He was still not happy about the pickings, and he was also not happy about having to pre-register, rather than be able to register on the spot.

“There wasn’t nearly as many available as there used to be,” Mr. Parker said. “Used to be a whole new list every year.”

Sometimes properties get picked up by the Land Bank and then get deposited back on the forfeited land list.

The Land Bank is run by the county and funded by penalties paid by delinquent property taxpayers to acquire tax-delinquent vacant and foreclosed properties and find a use for them – be that demolition, selling a vacant lot to a neighbor, or selling the parcel to a community group.

Auction rules

Sam Gazwi, 55, bought 3750 Jackman Rd. in a bidding contest with Brenda Ross, 46, who wanted the site for her planned salon and consignment shop. Mr. Gazwi owns Sam’s Auto Sales across the street and needs the property for parking his and his employees’ cars. He said he might fix up the building for a resale business his wife runs.

Ms. Ross said the bidding got too rich for her.

“That’s all the cash I was willing to spend at the time,” Ms. Ross said. “It would have been a perfect building. It was fun while it lasted.”

The parcel and building that Mr. Gazwi got for $5,000 was taken over last year by the land bank which had it priced at $40,000, and then put back on the forfeiture list.

Auditor Anita Lopez said all properties have outstanding tax bills and have already been attempted to be sold twice at sheriff’s auctions.

Ms. Lopez said the purpose of pre-registration was to screen out buyers who already have unpaid property taxes. Those who have an outstanding tax debt are made to pay up the property tax before they can buy additional properties, as some did.

Ms. Lopez said the forfeited land sales have declined since the Land Bank was created in 2010, and as the county has recovered from the financial collapse of 2008 that forced many properties in Lucas County into mortgage or tax foreclosure.

In 2006, there were 184 parcels sold. It jumped to 206 the following year and remained relatively steady until 2013, records show.

Ms. Lopez and her staff read out instructions before the start of the auction to make clear that the auditor makes no guarantees about the condition of the properties and that there are no refunds once a property is sold. She said some houses may look good on the Auditor’s Real Estate Information System website, but may be already slated for demolition.

“There’s a reason why it’s forfeited. And there is a reason why we say cash only,” Ms. Lopez said. As sales were completed, the buyers received their deeds.

Contact Tom Troy: or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

Monika Perry , Colleen Eldridge , Nic Botek , lucas county auditor , lucas county commissioners , Lucas County Land Bank , land auction , land bank , toledo museum of art , Bruce Rumpf , Sam Rumpf , Paul Parker , Larry Parker , Sam Gazwi , Brenda Ross , anita lopez

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