Last year, the Philadelphia Housing Authority decided to sell off a few dozen scattered site properties that they didn’t have the funding to rehabilitate, hiring Barry Slosberg Auctioneers to facilitate the sales. We attended that auction, and even bought one of the properties on the list. We’d estimate that a couple hundred people attended the auction, even though only a few dozen of the attendees were actually in on the bidding.

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Brewerytown property that was on the list

Apparently, PHA was quite pleased with the results of the auction in October, as they held yet another auction yesterday, again with BSS Auctioneers. This time, there were roughly 130 properties on the auction list, and as the number of available properties grew, so did the number of people in attendance. For the first couple hours, it was standing room only, though the crowd began to thin as the day wore on.

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Not even half the crowd
A whole bunch more people

Perhaps the larger crowd was attracted by the larger list of properties, spanning various neighborhoods around the city. Another possibility is that there were a few prime properties on the list which might have encouraged developers that weren’t interested in the previous auction’s lackluster list. Despite the larger crowd, we were able to purchase yet another property this time around, though at a slightly higher price than we would have liked. Alas.

Our success notwithstanding, this auction is a big win for PHA, the auction house, the winning bidders that didn’t overpay, and especially the people that live in the vicinity of any of the homes on the auction list. For years, we’ve lamented that PHA has a collection of vacant homes they aren’t able to rehab and isolated lots they aren’t able to redevelop, as these properties have a severely negative impact on their neighbors. With new owners stepping in for all these properties, we’ll see many examples of the worst home on a block becoming the nicest home on a block. With the broken windows theory in mind, these transformations will have a disproportionately positive impact in many cases. Just one of many reasons to expect additional PHA auctions, moving forward.