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Niagara County earns sizable profit on tax foreclosure auction

LOCKPORT – The winning bids at Saturday’s Niagara County tax-foreclosure auction totaled more than twice as much as the unpaid taxes than put the properties on the block in the first place.

County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews said Monday that 59 parcels were sold for a total of $651,550 Saturday in the Shawnee Fire Company hall in Wheatfield. The county wrote off $315,076 in delinquent taxes on those 59 lots.

In addition, State Supreme Court Justice Mark A. Montour last week ordered nine properties taken off the auction list so the owners could make late payments to keep the properties, despite having missed the June 27 redemption deadline. Seven of those properties were in fact redeemed, bringing in another $98,853.

The owner of the other two failed to pay despite being given extra time by Montour, and his properties were auctioned off, Andrews said.

Saved from the auction block in that manner were a commercial building on Quarry Road in the Town of Niagara and houses on South Seventh Street in Lewiston, Johnson Creek Road in Somerset and Wilson Avenue in Wilson, plus assorted vacant lots.

Four parcels, on which a total of $22,393 was owed, were neither redeemed nor sold because the owners filed for bankruptcy protection, which prohibits their real estate from being auctioned.

That kept houses on Seaman and Pearson roads in Hartland, Lake Road in Porter and Maple Road in Wilson from going under the hammer.

Andrews admitted this year’s sale was “an off-year” because of a shortage of first-class properties. There seemed to be a greater proportion than usual of collapsing houses and odd vacant lots, such as the one in the Town of Lockport that was 5 feet wide and 120 feet deep, or the one in Porter that measured 13 feet wide and 190 feet deep.

Andrews said a couple of the winning bidders who got those lots for a pittance refused to pay after finding out that the mortgage recording tax would be more than their bid.

Given the limitations, Andrews said, “It was a successful sale. We were able to exceed the amount we had to pay on those properties to the municipalities.”

He was referring to the legal requirement for the county to make the local governments and school districts whole for the unpaid local taxes re-levied by the county.

The highest price paid in the auction was $60,000 by auto shop owner James Page of Lewiston for a 148.9-acre parcel of vacant industrial land on Liberty Drive in Wheatfield, even though it was marked in the sale catalog as having “federal wetland issues.”

The highest-priced house was $41,000 for a 1450-square-foot ranch house on half an acre of land on Lincoln Avenue Extension in Royalton, purchased by Jason and Scott Manning.

Another home, a 1,420-square-foot brick Cape Cod on six-tenths of an acre of land on Lockport-Olcott Road in Newfane, sold for $40,000.

The County Legislature will be asked to accept the winning bids at its Sept. 16 meeting. email: