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What Went Down at Yesterday's Brooklyn Foreclosure Auction

The Voice is starting a new feature several times a week. As foreclosures continue unabated across the nation, the Voice will be profiling the foreclosures that happen every week right here in the five boroughs. We'll be looking closely at the properties facing foreclosure, the public auctions where those buildings are sold to the highest bidder, and the individuals facing eviction in the process.

At yesterday afternoon's foreclosure auction at the King's County Supreme Court, two of three properties we highlighted here were sold--for way below market value.

147 Bleecker Street, a three-story apartment building that had a market value, according to the bank, of $360,000, was sold for just $160,000.

357 Linden Street, which housed a group of disgruntled tenants who were happy about the foreclosure, was snapped up by the plaintiffs (Intervest Mortgage Corporation) for $510,000--almost one-third of the announced market value of 1.4 million--after no one made a bid.

These sales are systemic, with buyers making quick bids, and then required to put down 10% deposit of their purchases by cash or check immediately after winning the auction.

The representatives who made both purchases refused to speak, but Derrick Johnson, a paralegal from Layman Legal Writing who attends auctions regularly to "observe the system", has his opinion:

"The people here at these auctions are all private investors or from banks. None of them are normal people looking to buy a home. They don't need the home, they're making these purchases to own the property and then jack up the rent. It's all a system, because many of these banks are the people responsible for handing out the loans in the first place," he said.

Johnson, who said his job is to reach out to those being foreclosed on and offer them advice and knowledge, said the blame shouldn't go to these buyers, but the loan monitors, the mortgage brokers, and the SEC (Security Exchange Commission) for being too lenient in handing out loans.

For people like Mrs Johnson (of 147 Bleecker Street), who had no idea her home has been sold, it's not the end of the line, according to Johnson.

"It's not over with just because the house has been sold," he said. "[The tenants] can still fight the case after the sale, because the title of the house has not transferred yet."


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