Housing authority sells nine ‘scattered site’ properties

Decision to enlist help pays off

It’s been almost a year since the Altoona Housing Authority advertised its 10 “scattered site” public housing properties for sale and received laughably inadequate bids — which it summarily rejected.

The authority subsequently enlisted Clyde E. Yon & Associates to sell the properties, a decision that has paid off in sales of all but one for a collective price of $495,000 — which exceeds their appraised values by $31,000.

The original bids — there were none on four properties and none within $10,000 of appraised value on the others — totaled $224,000, $270,000 less than what Yon fetched.

Initially, the authority advertised in the Mirror for sealed bids, according to Pat Altiero, broker for Yon.

With that method, the properties were “not truly exposed to what the market is,” Altiero said.

He placed the property on a multiple listing service, which all at once exposed them to about 350 professional real estate agents, each “working with people in the marketplace” — including investors and homeowners who were looking to move, Altiero said.

Many of those potential buyers receive automatic notifications from their Realtors when properties within their “search parameters” come up for sale, he said.

Of the properties that sold, one was a triplex, seven were duplexes and one was a single family home.

All but the single-family home were purchased as investment properties, four by one limited liability company, two by another LLC and two by individuals, Altiero said. The single-family home was purchased by a couple who intend to live there, he said.

The property that hasn’t sold yet — but that’s still for sale — is a lot with a garage.

Altiero was actually “excited” to get the assignment from the authority, he said.

“When you have 10 units at one time, it’s not commonplace,” he said.

Because the authority had taken the buildings — which were probably in bad shape — and rehabilitated them 20 or 25 years ago, they all had good heating, electrical and plumbing systems, which made them attractive for investors, as those systems are expensive to replace, Altiero said.

Installation of carpet and application of paint doesn’t tend to scare investors, but replacing the systems can, he said.

Authority Executive Director Cheryl Johns is pleased the job is essentially done.

“We’ve been trying for years,” she said.

The authority first proposed to sell the scattered sites in 2011, but HUD rejected its initial application because the authority failed to make the case that selling the properties was preferable to renovating them.

It ultimately hired an expert whose analysis showed that renovation would have exceeded a threshold percentage of original development costs.

The authority wanted to sell the sites because they’re costly to maintain, because workers needed to travel between them to make repairs, and because the homes’ lack of uniformity made it harder to buy materials and supplies in bulk.

The authority plans to use the money from the sales to revive its Home Choice program, which helps make home purchases affordable for families that never bought a home before.

It’s a rent-to-buy program, with a portion of the rent put into escrow, so that after three years, the escrowed money can be used for a down payment on the house, Johns said.

There’s only one house currently in the program, at 1477 Washington Ave.

Its occupants have been in it for a year and a half, Johns said.

The money from the scattered sites sales could pay for construction of perhaps two new homes, which would be built on land the authority owns around North 10th Avenue and North 21st Street in the northern section of Juniata, she said.

There are four or five lots there, she said.

There should be enough money from the sales left over to supplement $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant money the city has awarded to the authority for roofs, parking lot paving and sidewalk and step repairs at the Fairview Hills housing development, Johns said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

Nine properties sold

The scattered site properties sold by Yon include:

– 114 Lexington Ave., $53,000, $3,000 more than appraised value; $13,000 more than original bid.

– 504 Crawford Ave., $58,500, $3,000 more than appraised value; there was no original bid.

– 705 Sixth Ave., $41,000, $1,000 more than appraised value; $21,000 more than original bid.

– 820 Sixth Ave., $50,000, exactly appraised value; there was no original bid.

– 1407 First St., $58,000, $3,000 more than appraised value; $23,000 more than original bid.

– 1501 15th St., $75,000, $5,000 more than appraised value; $16,110 more than original bid.

– 1904 Sixth Ave., $61,000, $3,000 more than appraised value; there was no original bid.

– 2021 Eighth Ave., $63,000, $3,000 more than appraised value; $18,000 more than original bid.

– 2114 Seventh Ave., $57,900, reduced to $35,000 because of structural problems that were discovered; ultimate sale price is $9,900 more than original bid.

– 2514 W. Chestnut Ave., still unsold; appraised value is $12,000.