WHITMAN — A blighted house at 35 East Ave., vacant for about a decade, now has a new owner and will soon be renovated — and returned to the tax rolls.
The boarded up house, across the street from the rodent-infested house torn down at 36 East Ave., on Nov. 12, 2015, was purchased by James Bowen of Middleborough during a street-side auction on Friday, Oct. 7.
The houses date to about the 1870s.
Minimum bid for the auctioned house was $85,000. Bowen bought it for $103,000 after a short bidding war with another interested party after the price had climbed to $100,000.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam reported to Selectmen on Tuesday, Oct. 11 that the cost of sale — for the auctioneer and advertising — was $4,500. The town nets more than $99,000 and, even after the $86,897 in total carrying costs for the property while it stood vacant, the town “comes out on this property as whole as we would have” if it had never been vacant.
Bowen operates rental properties, mostly in Brockton and Lakeville, Middleborough and Avon. This is the first of some 40 projects he’s done that will be in Whitman. He used to work for Shadley Brothers on Day Street, however, so he knows something about the town.
He plans to put on a new roof to weatherproof it within the next few weeks.
“I like old houses,” he said of his plans to renovate instead of tearing it down. “I just did one over from the 1880s so I know the old houses and it seemed like a good investment.”
Auctioneer Samantha Saperstein of the Paul Saperstein Co. of Holbrook began the bidding at 11 a.m., asking if all qualified bidders had registered and if there were any questions. As a town sale, and not a foreclosure, she was not required to read a legal notice before opening the bidding.
One person asked if any taxes were due on the property.
“We’re not seeking taxes, we just want to sell it,” said Town Administrator Frank Lynam. “You start getting taxed the day you own the property.”
He and Building Inspector Bob Curran represented the town at the auction.
“This is a big step,” Curran said, noting the rest of East Avenue is a beautiful neighborhood. “This was the worst part of it.”
“Whatever you bid here today is what you close at closing,” Saperstein said. “A few of you have asked about two-family housing … If you go to just rehab it, as it is, you can do what you want with it — if you have the proper permits. If you tear it down, I believe you’ll have to go in front of the zoning board [ZBA] and get the proper permits to do a two-family home.”
The property had not been a legal multi-family home in the past.
“[Paul] Saperstein is a preeminent auction house,” Lynam said.
A neighborhood resident, who has lived on the street for 71 years said it was good to see something done with the problem properties.
“It was sad to see that one go,” she said gesturing to the vacant lot where the 36 East Ave. house stood. “This one — I don’t know how old it is, but it was certainly here when I moved on the street.”