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Opportunity is knocking in the chilly winter air of this Seattle suburb, and Rock Harrison intends to answer it.
Built like a linebacker and sporting a mustache-goatee combo, Harrison, 37, is one of three dozen people who have gathered around an aluminum picnic table outside an office building in a strip mall for one of two weekly public foreclosure auctions in Washington’s King County.
Harrison and four competitors have qualified to bid on a 3,300-square-foot McMansion on an acre lot in the south county town of Auburn. The house last sold for $470,450 more than four years ago, the county assesses it at $577,000, and well over $600,000 is owed against it on a pair of loans.
But the foreclosing lender, trying to recoup what it can in an area of plummeting real estate prices, has set the opening bid at just $267,000. Interest is high because most would-be buyers figure the house, currently vacant and in decent shape, can be quickly resold for about $500,000.
A short, bespectacled crier presides over the auction from one end of the picnic table.
The bidding quickly leaps over $300,000, going up $3,000 and $4,000 at a pop, with offers from all participants. Above $320,000, where Harrison drops out, it becomes a two-man contest, each new bid often just $100 or $200 above the last. After more than 10 minutes and 75 bids, the property finally sells for just under $371,000.
Harrison tosses his bidding card on the table, tugs on his baseball cap with its Skidoo logo and awaits his next prospect.
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