May 2, 2013
LIMA — The biggest crowd in decades gathered Wednesday on the second floor of the Allen County courthouse to chase dreams and disappointment in a home and property sale that had the feeling of a lottery.
The Auditor’s Auction offered the potential to buy a house for as little as $1, but it was clear from the beginning that would not happen. The lowest house price was $2,500. Tameeja Vasser bought it for her daughter.
“My daughter lives with my mom. She has two kids,” Vasser said.
Her 21-year-old daughter otherwise would not be able to buy a house on her own. Vasser wanted to help her daughter get a start in life, and home ownership is an important lesson her grandmother taught her, she said.
One vacant lot on South Central Avenue sold for $25. Another on South Union Street sold for $30.
There also were the sale of two lots with infamous histories. A woman bought the vacant lot at 735 S. Elizabeth St. Just over a year ago, police and archeologists dug up the former property of Glen Fryer and unearthed the remains of Nicholle Coppler, a 14-year-old who ran away from home in 1999. The find followed the demolition of the home. Fryer committed suicide in 2002.
Another property on Swaney Road belonged to Nicholas Kinstle, who is serving an 8-year-prison sentence in a case in which he tried to challenge the system as a sovereign citizen. He sent false legal documents to a number of public officials demanding large sums of money, all over a dispute with his own property.
One of the dreamers on hand who just wanted to buy a nice house for his family was Eddie Pritchett. He’s a retired cartoonist who was determined to purchase 423 S. Woodlawn Ave.
“My wife really liked this one. We’re going to call it home,” he said.
That house, two stories with a basement in a nice neighborhood, has a four-car garage Pritchett said he was looking forward to spending time in working on his motorcycles. He also joked his wife was probably looking forward to having him in the garage out of her way with his hobbies.
Sgt. Alan Mefferd served as auctioneer as he does with sheriff sales. He said he was surprised by some prices such as the $2,500 Vasser paid for a house.
“That’s a little bit lower than what I anticipated,” he said.
The properties up for sale failed to sell at two sheriff auctions. Mefferd started bids at the amount of back taxes but no one jumped waiting to open with a low bid.
With no one offering bids to pay the back taxes, the law allowed for a lower bid or best attainable price.
The properties all seemed to go to citizens and not some of the property investment companies that buy houses to flip or rent, Mefferd said.
“None of the investment people who usually were at the sheriff sale bought anything,” he said.
Overall, 26 properties which included eight houses, sold for a total of $118,875. The money will go to pay back taxes on the houses and if any is left over it will go into the county General Fund, Mefferd said.
While some walked away happy, Tabitha Whited of Lima had hoped to be a first time home owner. She had her eye on the property Pritchett bought and another on Cortlandt Avenue. But with a maximum to spend of $15,000, she knew she didn’t stand much of a chance. Still, she dreamed for an afternoon while holding onto the hope that dream will someday come true.
“I don’t expect to come away with anything today,” she said before the auction began.