YORK, Maine — The town’s attempt to sell a dilapidated rat-infested property on Darcey Road came in way under what officials had hoped to get for the property.
The home at 21 Darcy Road, which burned in a fire in February and is owned by the town through a foreclosure, was put on the market this summer with an asking price of $400,000. Realtor Lianne Cronin, hired by the town to broker the deal, told the board Monday that the highest of five offers came back at $276,600. The lowest offer was $225,000.
Interim Town Manager Kathryn Lagasse said it was also discovered since going to market that a lien from the Internal Revenue Service is on the home, which was seized by the town prior to the fire in 2020 for lack of tax payment. Lagasse said that combined with a $15,000 cleanup charge and a bill from the pest control company Terminix totals a cost of $291,416 owed.
“Which does not match any of the current offers,” Lagasse added. Lagasse said the taxes could be abated, and that the town would seek leniency from the IRS, which has an office in Portland, Maine.
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Selectboard members said they would be content with a price that covered the bills and, if possible, have some left over to give to the former owner of the home, who is elderly. Mike Estes asked Cronin to reach out to the five who gave offers to bring their price up to $300,000.
“That way we know the town would be whole,” Estes told Cronin. “That would at least settle up, and Kathryn (Lagasse) can still work with the IRS. Maybe they’ll reduce some of it, maybe we can give some of it back to the (former) homeowner.”
The house burned Feb. 23 and displaced the owner, who neighbors have said is in a new living situation. The Selectboard turned their attention to the home in the spring after fielding complaints that the town was taking too long to clean the property. Neighbors said the home had trash and furniture in the front yard and that vermin had been seen there. The town began cleaning the land in May, as well as treating it for pests, though the latter was initially hoped to be covered by a prospective buyer.
The board has expressed interest in helping the woman who lost the home by giving some of the proceeds of the sale to her. They initially thought this was possible through Maine’s Homestead Exemption Program, which guarantees people 65 and older money from the sale of their home if it had been seized by the town. Tax Assessor Luke Vigue said in July she never applied for the exemption and is therefore not eligible.
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The board said in their meeting with Vigue they would consider crafting an ordinance to allow the town to give a percentage of proceeds from the sale of a town-seized home to the former owner. They were advised by then-Town Manager Steve Burns not to do so until the May 2023 referendum to give more time for discussion on an appropriate percentage.
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The asking price was initially set at $400,000 partly due to its location in York Harbor where homes have recently sold for prices of $1.1 million and $900,000, Cronin said in July. Wednesday, she said she had notified the five who gave offers on the house that the board would like $300,000. She said others have also since called asking about the home, and if none of the five are interested in paying the new asking price, the town will consider going back to the market.
“It doesn’t just have to be these five either,” Cronin said. “I think there’s probably two or three other people out there that were kind of going back and forth, and we can just put it out.”