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Niagara foreclosure auction is smallest in years

Niagara County will place about 60 properties up for bids Saturday in the smallest tax foreclosure auction in years, County Treasurer David S. Broderick said.

Bidding starts at 10 a.m. in the Niagara County Community College Fine Arts Auditorium on the campus at routes 31 and 429 in Sanborn. Registration of bidders will begin at 9 a.m.

The auction list originally included 79 properties, but as of Thursday afternoon, 16 had been withdrawn from the auction list, mostly because the owners paid off the taxes they owed.

Some municipalities take a hard line on redemptions, demanding payments well in advance of the foreclosure auction. But Broderick, who's been in office since 1973, always has taken a lenient view, allowing tax payments to be made until 5 p.m. the day before the bidding.

"If people want to protect their property, I want to help them," Broderick said Thursday. "I've always said I don't want to be in the real estate business. . . . The fewer people I take property away from, the better. It means taxes are being paid."

Several years ago, the county shifted to a two-year foreclosure cycle, instead of the four-year cycle it had long followed.

Broderick said that means more foreclosure warnings are sent out, but it also could mean more redemptions, because two years' taxes are easier to pay off than four years' worth. Broderick said of the number of parcels available, "This is the first time we've been this low."

Last year, the county sold 88 properties at the auction and took in $865,350. It also collected $239,296 from owners of 26 other properties who paid off their arrears to prevent their property from being auctioned off, and by selling nine tiny parcels, deemed unmarketable, in private transactions.

There isn't much commercial property available this year. A vacant 26.4-acre lot on South Transit Road in Lockport, just south of Fisk Road, might be the juiciest in that category; it's assessed at $127,100.

An auction catalog may be picked up at Broderick's office on Hawley Street in Lockport or viewed at www.AuctionsInternational.com.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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