Town houses up for auction in Canton area

April 21, 1991|By Edward Gunts

Baltimore's so-called Gold Coast seems to be turning into th Foreclosure Coast, with recent auctions of the Shipyard apartments on Boston Street and the Henderson's Wharf condominiums in Fells Point.

While those sales involved large complexes with units too expensive for the average homebuyer, auctioneers are planning another foreclosure sale that could provide some bargains for individuals willing to invest some old-fashioned "sweat equity."

For sale: 24 of the 26 Washington Square town houses built recently in the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Aliceanna Street and the 2000 block of Fountain Street near the Canton waterfront. They will be sold in an auction on the premises May 1 beginning at 11 a.m.

The auction, by Atlantic Auctions Inc., is a foreclosure sale on behalf of Maryland National Bank, which initiated foreclosure proceedings in January against Washington Square Associates Limited Partnership, a group headed by Baltimore County developer Norman Rockwell. The bank claimed in court documents that Mr. Rockwell's group owed almost $3.9 million as of Jan. 11, and interest has been accruing at the rate of $1,248.233 a day.

NB The properties were priced from $135,000 to $145,000 when they

went on the market last year, and two have been sold. Andrew Stafford, an auctioneer with Atlantic, said he believes the rest could sell for much less at auction.

He said the unsold houses are essentially complete but that each needs some work to make them habitable. In some cases, he said, the carpeting has not been installed. In others, the kitchen cabinets and floor surfaces are not in place. In still other cases, the bathroom fixtures aren't in. The cost of completing each unit, he estimated, ranges from $3,000 to $9,000 or more.

Because the houses are being auctioned in "as is" condition --without warranties -- they are expected to sell for far less than the retail price set by the developer, Mr. Stafford said. Buyers capable of completing the necessary work, he said, could end up acquiring a brand new house near the Canton waterfront at a fraction of the original price.

"I think this is an opportunity for first-time buyers to get into a house if they're willing to put in some sweat equity," he said. "Structurally, it's there. The electrical work is finished. It's just a question of finishing things that homeowners could do one bit at a time, such as carpet installation."

The houses are at 1928-1932, 2000-2008 and 2012-2020 Aliceanna Street, and 2001-2019 and 2023 Fountain Street. Some are two stories high and others are three stories. Most have two bedrooms; some have two bedrooms and lofts.

Atlantic Auctions plans to auction the houses at least two ways, and the bank's trustees will determine which bidder or bidders will ultimately get them.

Under the auctioneers' sales method, each town house will be offered individually, and the highest bid received for each will be held in reserve. Then all 24 town houses will be offered as an entirety. The trustees also may decide to offer one or more groupings of town houses.

In previous auctions,trustees have ended up selling the houses in the method that brings the most money, and it usually turns out to be the sum of the individual sales.

If the houses are sold individually, the bank will require a deposit of $7,500 for each house at the time of sale. The rest will have to be paid within 20 days from the ratification of the sale by the Baltimore Circuit Court, a process that typically occurs about a month after the auction.

If the town houses are sold as an entirety, a deposit of $172,500 will be required at the time of the sale. The remainder would be due within 20 days after the court ratification.

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