The Town of North Topsail Beach will net more than $600,000 from last week’s auction of dozens of tracts of land that drew bidders from 18 states and Canada.
The town could see more money from the sale as the bidding remains open on some parcels.
“I thought it went great,” said Mayor Fred Burns, who was at town hall Friday when the sale went live. “I think we had about 60 people there in person and more online. There was quite a bit of excitement there.”
Up for bid were 55 pieces of land in the Onslow County town, including a handful owned by the county. Town officials wanted to auction the properties to generate income in two ways – the sale of the land puts money into the town’s general fund, where it can be used for projects such as beach renourishment, and by returning the land to private ownership, the town can collect taxes on it.
Offerings included beachfront and inland tracts ripe for development for single-family homes or town houses, and some pieces of dune so small they couldn’t accommodate anything more substantial than the sea oats that cling to them now. The properties came to the town through tax forfeitures, donations and at least one purchase the town made before changing its plans.
Prices so far range from $500 for a three-one-hundredths of an acre sliver of sand that leads to the ocean, to $145,000 for seven-tenths of an acre of oceanfront that town officials say is suitable for building.
Auctioneer Jimmy Johnson of Johnson Properties, who conducted the sale, said bidders came in person or online from Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Utah, West Virginia and even Ontario, Canada.
“It was pretty hot for a sale like that,” Johnson said. “I think the town was satisfied.”
The town rejected only two bids for being too low: one on a beachfront parcel that could be developed and one for a grouping of several lots the town owns on the mainland. Johnson said the town is negotiating with a possible buyer this week on the mainland grouping, which could be developed into a small subdivision.
Town Clerk Carin Faulkner said the sales have been finalized on most of the tracts that went to buyers who attended in person. For the properties whose highest bidders participated online, the town must open the parcels to the upset-bid process, which means they could still fetch a higher price. Interested buyers can find information about those 28 pieces on the town’s website, www.ntbnc.org.
At times, the mayor said, bidding was intense, even for properties that the town wasn’t sure it could sell at all. Burns said one woman came to town hall to bid on a bit of beachfront land across the street from her house. The oceanfront sliver is much too small for a home, but might accommodate a private set of stairs to the beach.
At the very least, it would give the buyer the right to say she has beachfront property.
Bidding on the tract started at $100, and Burns said the woman was surprised to see someone online going after her oceanfront dream.
“We have a defibrillator” at town hall, Burns said. “I though we might have to use it on her.”
Finally, the hammer came down and the parcel was declared sold.
“When she got it, she burst into tears,” Burns said. “She was just weeping, she was so happy.”