Eight west Medford cottages built during the Great Depression and owned by Umpqua Bank are up for auction.
The cottages, collectively known as Katherine Court Condominiums, are located on West 11th Street between Newton and South Peach streets. A dozen units, ranging between 650 and 682 square feet, were built in 1935. County property records show two remain in possession of the Phoenix, Ariz., owner whose units were foreclosed in March. One is owned as a rental by a Grants Pass family trust, and another has been owner-occupied since January 2014.
Realty Market/Northwest is conducting the auction on behalf of Umpqua Bank with sealed bids due by Nov. 15.
The wood-framed cottages with wood siding and composition roofs hark back to a simpler era when most Medford residents lived within a mile or two of the Southern Pacific railroad tracks and most local commerce was conducted between Oakdale Street and Bear Creek.
The units were converted into condominium ownership in 2007 with a home owners association to care for common properties.
Sterling Savings Bank was the project lender and was later acquired by Umpqua Holdings. The units were marketed by John L. Scott Realty with an asking price of $475,000. But after six months, Umpqua decided to go through a bulk auction with a reserve price of $375,000, or $46,875 per unit.
"It wasn't getting much traction, so Umpqua asked us to put it in our fall auction as inexpensive investment property," Realty Marketing/Northwest vice president Sharon Peede said.
The top bid at $375,000 or more will acquire the property, Peede said.
"Anything with a contingency, the owner can counter, accept or reject," she said.
Steve Ryan, who bought into the development in 2014, said he has seen potential buyers looking over the property from time to time in recent weeks.
"My gut feeling is they looked at 'em and realized the units will take a few thousand dollars a piece to rehab," Ryan said. "Assuming; assuming they do the work themselves."
Ryan acquired his 650-square-foot house for $60,000.
"Mine is pretty insulated with double-paned windows, nice hardwood floors and a heat pump," he said. "The others have old bathroom and kitchen sinks and no air conditioning. The heat is from an old box style furnace from the 1970s or '80s."
He was aware of the pending foreclosure and the home owners association going dormant when he bought his place.
"It was kind of confusing," Ryan said.
Katherine Court has been a quiet place, he said, with several places unoccupied. The common sidewalks and landscape have been maintained, even without the homeowners association in place.
Ryan explored buying a second unit, but didn't have the 20 percent cash for a down payment on rental property.
For now, a property management firm is maintaining the common property, but Ryan figures he will eventually have to chip in after the condos are sold.
The units presently share two water meters, one for units attached to 813 and one for those associated with 825 W. 11th St.
"I checked with the city when I moved in," he said. "But so far I've never had a water bill, but so far there hasn't been a problem."
Ryan is ambivalent about a pending transition.
"I'm not sure if it's positive or negative," he said. "If someone bought and rehabbed them, it would be nice for the neighborhood. But, obviously not having neighbors is kind of nice, because the units are pretty close together. If a couple of party animals move in, it could get not-so-fun pretty quick."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.