Home auction draws hungry buyers to Oakland

July 16, 2011 5:47:52 PM PDT
There was a free, open to the public auction on Saturday in Oakland with homes from all over Northern California up for grabs, but in this down economy, some found they were still getting outbid.

California is still leading the nation in the number of foreclosure filings this year, and on Saturday, people took advantage of those who lost their homes to foreclosure.

The talk is fast and the numbers kept climbing at the public auction in Oakland. Homes went on the auction block from all over Northern California, including Sonoma, Santa Cruz and San Anselmo.

Today, the Oakland Marriott Hotel became a place where dreams came true. For some, bidding started at just $19,000 for a home once worth $280,000.

Beverly Sipes bought her first home on Saturday: A three-bedroom house in Antioch. Sipes hasn't had a permanent home in months and stayed with friends to save money.

The starting bid for Sipes' home was $25,000.

"I'm gonna live there a long time," Sipes said after revealing she'd spent $115,000 on the home.

Not everyone had a happy ending at the auction. The Edwa family had their hearts set on a three-bedroom home in San Leandro. The family said the home was perfect for them, but they were bought out by someone who purchased the home as an investment property.

"For people like us that both have steady jobs...we're educated, we just don't have a lot saved because we're a new family," Onnie Edwa said. "Investors came in and just bought it. It's kind of a little discouraging."

The audience at the auction was split: There were several investors and about a dozen ordinary families who just want to own a home. According to the Dean Emeritus at Golden Gate University's School of Business, professional investors are exactly what the housing market needs.

"For right now, investors are in a better position to move quickly with cash and, frankly, the sooner they clear the market, the better," said Terry Connelly.

Even more foreclosed homes are supposed to be available in the next few months, which means we won't soon see even a slight housing recovery.

The auction held on Saturday was run by Auction.com. The company organizes auctions all over Northern California roughly once a month. The company plans on being in Sacramento on Sunday and back in the Bay Area in late August.

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