Many African-American homes sold in NYC foreclosure auction

Hundreds of houses ? some with starting bids as low as $1,000 ? were sold to the highest bidders Sunday in a rare auction of foreclosed properties in the New York metropolitan area, the company running the sale said.

“We don’t see as many properties going to foreclosure or being sold in New York City as we do in other parts of the country that have been hit a lot harder,” said Robert Friedman, chairman of Irvine, Calif.-based Real Estate Disposition Corp. “It just seems like other areas were over-built more.”

The auction was only REDC’s second for New York City, although the company runs sales around the country. Auctions of foreclosured properties in locations including Georgia, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Minnesota and Michigan are scheduled later this month.

Government and private data show that the majority of foreclosed homes or those facing foreclsorures are owned by African-Americans and other minorities because they are the dominant group that fell victims to unscruplous subprime lenders and ongoing job losses.

The latest data from the Labor Department shows unempoyment rate among blacks is 13.4 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for white and 10.9 percent for Latinos. National unempolyment rate rsoe to 8.1 percent last week, a 25-year high.

About 1,000 people attended the auction Sunday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, with additional bids coming from the Internet for more than 350 condos, single-family houses and duplexes around New York City and Pennsylvania.

Despite descriptions of some homes as fixer-uppers with problems including mold, water damage and vandalism, many were eager to score damaged real estate.

Tami Burgess, who paid $340,000 for a Yonkers home that she’d been eyeing since October, said she was excited but had “a lot of work to do on the house.”

The sale was protested by a handful of picketers who chanted: “Evictions are a crime! It could be your house next!”

One of the protesters, Sharon Black, said she was in bankruptcy and hoping to save her Baltimore home.

“These folks are profiting off the people’s misery,” she said.

REDC spokesman Rick Weinberg said the auctions help stimulate the economy by putting people in vacant houses.

“Their problem is with the foreclosure crisis in general,” Weinberg said. “We are part of the solution, not the problem.”

Ed Bates paid $115,000 for a house in Nyack and said he had no qualms about buying a foreclosed home.

“It’s really not taking someone’s home for the simple reason that it’s vacant,” he said. “If somebody was in there and I had to get them out, chances are I wouldn’t have purchased the house. I feel sad for them, but still, that’s the way the world is.”

Copyright 2009 AP