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Selling off Schenectady properties
SCHENECTADY -- Electric City sale. Schenectady is starting to sell homes it seized for delinquent taxes. It's part of a process to rehab buildings that are bringing neighborhoods down and stiffing the city out of tax money. City leaders say that those same lousy owners won't be coming back either!
The City Council spent months looking over applications from potential buyers. It went with five Monday night and says it will continue a careful review process for about forty more properties in the short term. Some of them were let go by landlords not in town.
"Maintain them," said councilman Carl Erikson. "Not just patch them up but do some significant restoration work and bring the houses up to code and maybe make them the nicest houses on the street."
Right now, neighbors might like to forget them, but the city is leaning on five properties to begin a successful sell-off. The highest bidder may not always get the key.
"A good bid is something that we're looking for but owner-occupied is key and the ability to invest the amount of money that's needed in some of these houses," Erikson said.
The first five to go went to local people, and one buyer from out-of-town who plans to relocate. An absentee landlord could buy one of these houses, but the Corporation Counsel and the city will hold them accountable.
"Depending on the amount of work that needs to be done they have a certain amount of time to bring it to code," John Polster said. "In the beginning we provide a list of what needs to be done. If you do that then you will get your certificate of occupancy so the property can be used."
Though Schenectady wants families to take pride in their homes, it does not rule out taking them back. You'll recall one man's steep fine handed down last week for code violations at his rental -- for holes in the walls, and garbage all over. If multiple parties bid on a property, regardless of price says the city, preference will be given to someone local.
"If the person buys it and just throws a coat of paint on it and decides to rent it, we can take it back," Erikson said. "We're not going to tolerate someone making a quick buck."
The prices for some of these homes are lower than the market value to account for the money buyers should be investing to bring the buildings up to code. Some of them are beyond repair, in some cases because of fires, and those houses are slated to be torn down.
Schenectady has made back close to $100,000. Not every transaction is going to recoup everything lost, and the city is being realistic about that. But, from the first few sales, it's be a good start.