News10NBC Investigates: Sale of homes marked for demolition is happening in the suburbs too

February 27, 2018 06:41 PM

News10NBC is investigating properties being sold at City of Rochester and Monroe County auctions even though the city is going to tear the homes down. 

On Tuesday, News10NBC uncovered new information that shows it's also happening in the suburbs. 

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The properties on the auction lists are properties where the taxes haven't been paid at least two years. The county and the city are auctioning the properties to get that delinquent tax money back. I discovered that in some cases that the homes on the list are either getting demolished or they're already torn down. 

Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini snapped a picture of one of the demolitions on September 16th, 2017. The home was at 33 Lettington Avenue. In the foreground of the picture, there is a man standing and watching the demolition. That man put a bid on the property at the Monroe County foreclosure auction three days earlier. 
Mark Assini, Gates Town Supervisor: “And we felt terrible. But we couldn't keep the home up. It was too far gone.”
Assini says the man, who News10NBC has not been able to identify, came to the demolition to convince the town not to tear it down. 

Mark Assini, Gates Town Supervisor: “The home could not be rehabbed. It was too far gone. In fact, just a couple of weeks before somebody had gotten into the house and fallen through the floor.”

And yet, it was on Monroe County's foreclosure auction list at its September 13th auction. 

News10NBC started this investigation last week. We've gone through hundreds of properties. 
Of the 512 city properties on the county list, 18 were marked for demolition. 
Of the 367 on the city list, six were marked for demolition. 

We spoke to Will Turner and Jimmie Briggs, two men who bought properties at auction only to be told by the city months later to stop repairs on the homes because the homes are scheduled to be torn down. 

Mark Assini, Gates Town Supervisor: “I think it would be wise, if a home is to be torn down and it's been flagged as such, and municipalities do that, the properties shouldn't be put up for sale at least that particular cycle.”

I went through the list of foreclosure properties in Greece, Chili, Henrietta, Penfield, Webster and Irondequoit. 
The demolition of 159 Montcalm Drive in Irondequoit happened on February 9th, 2016. 
It was one of the worst homes in Irondequoit. 

Dave Seeley, Irondequoit Town Supervisor: “This property was it was in disrepair, not just in disrepair it was really falling over.”

Irondequoit Town Supervisor Dave Seeley showed me the property today. It's an empty lot. 
But here's the thing. 
The property was up for sale on the county's foreclosure auction list last September. 
Brean: “Should homes that are marked for demolition by the city or towns be on these foreclosure auctions?” 
Dave Seeley, Irondequoit Town Supervisor: “I think communication is always key. What I will say is moving forward, if we do them and we've done this in the past, we'll see if they're on that foreclosure list. We want to make sure we're not putting people in a position where they're acquiring something that may be in the process of being demolished or may be demolished.”

It's important to understand that Monroe County and the City of Rochester say they're selling the property, not the house. And buyers are told to do their due diligence. But these problems would be solve if they just didn't sell the properties were the homes are marked for demolition. The new owners pay for the cost of tearing it down. 



Berkeley Brean

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