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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

People do Stupid Things in a Bubble

The headline pretty much says it all.

When Moe Batra saw the auction listing for a parcel of land near the Skagit River, he thought it would be the perfect place to build his retirement home.

So Batra, 58, joined about 2,000 other people at a land auction in Lynnwood last month put on by Auction Acres of Portland. And he won the basketball-court-sized parcel for $15,000.

What Batra didn't know — but what the company says he should have — was that the property is in the notorious flood zone of Hamilton, Skagit County. Only two years ago, it was swallowed up by the river that had so attracted Batra in the first place. Town officials won't allow Batra to build there or even connect utilities.
Nothing like flushing $15,000 down the toilet to snap someone back to reality. This reminds me of a few plots of land my wife and I looked at when we were window shopping earlier this year. Just over four acres a little outside of Monroe for $40,000. What a steal! Yeah, except that it was pretty much swamp. It might have been buildable if you wanted to spend another $40,000 to do some landscaping, but even then your back yard would just be a big stinking marsh. Sadly, I'm sure someone would have paid $40,000 or more for this land at an auction like the one mentioned in the article.
Eric Lopez, a retired paper-mill worker from Roy, Pierce County, agreed to buy 640 acres of desert land in Nevada for $75,000, and paid $6,250 for a down payment and fees. Then he found out the county where the land is located has assessed all 640 acres for $11,450.

When he went to see the land, he discovered it is about a mile from the nearest road, and there is no easement across adjoining land for access. Buying those easements would cost three times more than he agreed to pay for the land, Lopez estimates.
Does it smell like bubble in here, or is it just me?

(Brian Alexander, Seattle Times, 08.17.2005)


St Pete said...

Buying site unseen. Sounds like FL in the 1920's. Need some swampland? Boom!!!

Van Housing Blogger said...

Hey - it's great to see your blog here. Thanks for the link as well - I have linked you on the Vancouver site now as well. Keep it up - I'll be watching.