In the past few years, unique items that have appeared on the eBay auction block include a grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary; a vampire killing kit; an air guitar and even a Saginaw, Mich., home that sold for $1.75.
It’s that last item that might have resonated with officials in Lee County, Fla. In eBay-like fashion, they're selling foreclosed houses online.
Foreclosures are a nagging problem in Lee County and in other Florida locales. According to the latest numbers from RealtyTrac, one in every 140 Sunshine state housing units now has a foreclosure filing in the state, and 62,000 Florida homes entered into foreclosure in August alone.
To streamline the foreclosure process, Lee County is closing in on a deal to sell thousands of foreclosed homes via the Internet, using an eBay-like auction site developed by Realauction.com, by the beginning of 2010.
Lee County’s Clerk of Courts office says that it’s backed up with more than 22,000 mortgage foreclosures that it wants to put up for auction. Historically, that has meant holding auctions the old fashioned way — one-by-one on the grounds of the Lee County Justice Center. The county can’t keep up, even after the introduction a new county-wide foreclosure management campaign called the “rocket docket” earlier this year.
Why go the cyber-auction route? Taking the foreclosure auctions online will save on staffing resources and should also move the auction along at a quicker pace, says Lee County Clerk of Court Charlie Green, in an interview with the Southwest Florida-based News-Press.com. Lee County officials also hope to attract a wider, even global, audience by going online.