Montcalm County hosts annual auction of more than 100 foreclosed properties


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:14 pm on Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marty Spaulding, general manager of Title Check in Kalamazoo, acted as auctioneer for the dozens of bidders who attended Montcalm County’s foreclosure auction Monday. — Daily News/Cory Smith

STANTON — The Montcalm County Administrative Building was packed Monday as standing-room-only hopefuls vied to get their hands on one of 100+ foreclosed properties, but only three dozen people walked out of the old courthouse with a deed.

Marty Spaulding, general manager of Title Check in Kalamazoo, acted as the day’s auctioneer. More than half the people in the audience were first-time participants in a foreclosure auction, so Spaulding spent more than half an hour reviewing how a foreclosure auction works.

Jarrod Kieff, right, of Six Lakes raises his bidding card. He went on to make a successful bid on a Stanton property. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Spaulding then began taking bids from people in the audience, as well as from people bidding online. He injected a sense of humor into the process, all the while making a point to move the auction along as fast as possible.

Stephen and Michelle Mowat of Vestaburg were among many of the participants trying their fortune at a foreclosure property for the first time. The young couple had their eye on a property just down the road from where they live. The minimum bid was $6,700, but the couple had to outbid others before placing a successful bid of $9,300.

“It’s not a bad-looking piece of property, but it definitely needs some improvement,” Stephen Mowat said. “We’re hoping to fix it up and rent it out.”

Mowat said while the auction could have taken place in a larger room, the overall process went smoothly.

“I thought that they explained everything very well at the beginning,” he said. “The communication was very good.”

The Mowats had decided to go to the auction with a number in their head that they weren’t going to go above.

“Then we got there and saw other properties going for less and we decided to lower our number,” Stephen Mowat said with a laugh.

Claudia Sterling of Stanwood bid $14,500 on a former Lakeview church that had a minimum bid of $11,000. The property was most recently used as The Muse Theatre before being foreclosed on.

Sterling first noticed the property during a visit to Lakeview’s weekly Music in the Park concert.

“I just thought it was a decent piece of property,” she said. “We’ve got some ideas we’re going to throw around before we decide what to do with it.”

Montcalm County Treasurer JoAnne Vukin said she was pleased with how the auction was handled this year.

“The online bidding added another interesting aspect,” she said. “I felt the online bidding was a benefit to the county in trying to recoup the money that has been paid out for all of the delinquent taxes and fees.”

A former gas station in Amble (Winfield Township) with a minimum bid of $14,000 did not receive any bids Monday. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has conducted a preliminary examination of the property on M-46 and determined a very small amount of contamination exists. Whoever purchases the property will not be responsible for cleaning up the contamination.

An assortment of unfinished townhouses and duplex condos in Greenville also failed to garner any bids. Those properties had minimum bids of $650 to $46,000.

“That’s the surprise of the day,” observed Spaulding of the townhouses and duplex condos.

The total of 56 properties that did not sell at Monday’s auction will be auctioned off at Montcalm County’s no minimum bid auction on Sept. 25 in the Administrative Building. Barry and Ionia counties will have their no minimum bid auctions at the same time in the same location.

Visit montcalm.org online for more information.

Steven Zimmerman, left, of Howard City makes a successful bid on a Howard City property. — Daily News/Cory Smith

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