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A nearly six-acre parcel of land in Bedford -- outlined here in red -- is the priciest of more than 35 properties up for auction on the same day in Concord on May 18. The parcel on South River Road and Technology Drive in Bedford is valued at $1.74 million by a 2011 bank appraisal, according to auctioneer James Powers. (COURTESY)

Land auction could be lucky deal for some bidders

A nearly six-acre parcel of land in Bedford is listed as the priciest and a 343-acre plot in Thornton as the largest of more than 35 properties up for auction on the same day in Concord on May 18.

The large auction "creates a certain amount of urgency and energy," said Bedford auctioneer James Powers.The 38 properties at the auction at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord are spread among more than 15 communities from the North Country to the southern tier and are valued collectively at $5.1 million. Nearly all have no structures and are land-only. A dozen sellers are involved.Most are reserve auctions, where owners are willing to let properties go for an undisclosed amount, often less than the appraised or assessed value, he said. There are several absolute auctions, where the highest bid wins no matter what the final price.

The 5.83-acre parcel on South River Road and Technology Drive in Bedford is valued at $1.74 million by a 2011 bank appraisal, according to Powers.

He said he had received "a lot of inquiries" for the property, which is less than a half-mile from the airport access road that leads to highway access.Bedford Assessor Bill Ingalls said the town's assessment is listed at $692,300. The property is within in the town's performance zone, which is "designed to discourage residential development and to encourage commercial development," he said.

Ingalls said the value was updated in 2013.

"The market indicates that's what it was worth as a single undeveloped piece of land with no additional engineering into individual lots," he said.

Powers said the other property drawing a lot of interest is at 6 Drew Road in Derry. The 65 acres, valued at $675,000, contains "an old house that needs to be torn down," he said.

Both the Bedford and Derry properties are reserve auctions, so a pre-set minimum must be reached to sell.

Jeff Keeler, president of Capitol Region Board of Realtors, said auctioning a large number of properties at once is "a marketing tool. It's their way to flush a number of properties at once."

He said home prices went down an average 35 percent between 2006 and 2012 in Merrimack County, which includes Concord and Hooksett. Land prices dropped about 50 percent during that timeframe, he said.

"We're seeing new construction picking up at a fairly good clip in the southern tier and Seacoast area," Keeler said. "Talking with builders in the Concord area, they're starting to get more active."

The second biggest property - 143 acres in Northumberland - is a conservation area with 1,200 feet of frontage on Route 3 and 2,600 feet of frontage on the Connecticut River, Powers said.

"You can camp on it," snowmobile and hunt on it - but you can't live on it, Powers said. "It's like owning your own camping site and you have access to 143 acres."

The 343 acres in Thornton, valued at around $1 million, contains more than 5,000 feet of water frontage on Eastman Brook and includes approval for 42 permitted lots with an additional 25 lots possible for local approval, according to the listing.

Most sales require buyers to pay a 10 percent buyer's premium.

Bidders must register and provide a refundable $5,000 deposit payable by cash, certified check or bank check. Successful bidders have 30 days to pay the balance.

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