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Housing auction stirs strong feelings

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Bill Radke: In New York city yesterday, this was the sound of the economic fallout:

[Sound of an auctioneer calling off bids]

An auctioneer called off bids on hundreds of foreclosed properties. More than a thousand people showed up for the event at a Manhattan convention center. It was double the crowd from last year. And as Jennifer Collins reports, the emotions were higher, too.

Jennifer Collins: The auction drew two dozen protesters, including Sharon Black. She’s facing foreclosure herself. Black says banks that took federal bailout money shouldn’t be allowed to kick people out of their homes.

Sharon Black: It’s our money that they’re getting. And the fact that they shouldn’t even have the audacity to foreclose or evict given the amount of money that they made off the crisis.

Real Estate Disposition Corp. ran the auction. Chairman Robert Friedman says he feels for those people losing a home. But he says his business serves an important purpose.

Robert Friedman: We’re getting qualified buyers back into these vacant homes that do not do any neighborhood any good to have vacant homes in their neighborhood. We’re turning them back into homes, they’re . . . we’re creating jobs, we’re paying taxes.

One of those buyers is Ed Bates. He paid $115,000 for a house valued at nearly $300,000. Bates says he doesn’t feel bad about getting a bargain.

Ed Bates: I feel sad for them, but it’s still, that’s the way the world is. It’s not that I’m doing anything wrong. They probably were the one that did do something wrong. Otherwise they would still have the home.

More than 2 million homeowners faced foreclosure proceedings last year. Protesters say some foreclosures happening now violate government programs that help alleviate the housing crisis. The group says it’s planning to demonstrate on Wall Street next month.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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