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Still no bids for annexed acres

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

CHARLES TOWN – A second attempt on July 2 to auction off 19 acres of undeveloped land east of Shepherdstown yielded the same result as the first try on June 16 – no bids were made on any of the six lots.

The property – recently annexed into the town limits – was up for public sale again at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 2, at the entrance to the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town.

Rivendell – the owner of the property, where a 68-townhouse subdivision has been in the plans for more than five years – defaulted on the deed and note held by United Bank of Shepherdstown.

Attorney Stephen M. Mathias, trustee for the sale, did not announce a continuation of the auction, but he said he may try “different forms of advertising” or may re-evaluate the price.

The national economic recession makes it difficult to sell land, Mathias said. “If this was two years ago, we might have sold it the first day out here.”

Another possibility, besides foreclosure, could be to file suit and get a court judgement against the owner Rivendell for the amount owed to United Bank.

Even if the property is auctioned, the bank may still have to pursue legal action against the owner to recover financial losses.

“Most of the time, the bank doesn’t get what it’s owed, and still has to sue for the deficit,” Mathias noted. When foreclosures happen in West Virginia, the law states that the land must be offered for public auction, rather than taking the matter directly to court, he said.

Two adjacent property owners and a United Bank representative were present and took notes at the auction. No representative with Rivendell was present.

Mathias opened the bidding at $2.1 million on the six lots combined, and lowered the price to $1.5 million before closing the bidding and offering the six lots individually or in combination with other lots. The auction prices for the other lots ranged from a $44,000 opening bid for the smallest parcel up to a $1.3 million opening bid on the largest, roughly 11-acre parcel.

“We’ll find out what it’s worth by going through the process,” Mathias said. “We’re not going to give it away.”