Want a house for a song?
Start singing - or in this case, bidding. Shoshone County is auctioning off seven homes along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River because they’re vulnerable to flooding.
The only catch is, buyers will have to move their new dream homes away from the river.
“If anybody wants to salvage one of those, they’re sure welcome,” said Harold VanAsche, who is organizing the auction. But “we want that house gone when you’re done. And we want the foundation knocked down.”
There’s no minimum bid for the houses in and around Kingston. Buyers will have 30 days to come up with the money, and 60 days to move the houses.
Moving a house can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000, said Craig Catlow, a Spokane building mover.
But depending on how ambitious bidders are, it could be a sweet deal indeed. “You can bid any amount … most of the damage, believe it or not, has been repaired,” VanAsche said. “They’re very livable homes.”
He guesses the houses are worth from $30,000 to $100,000. Some are single-level, others are two-story.
The houses were purchased from the owners by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the agency paid market value for them as a response to last year’s flooding. Residents weren’t forced to leave; they had the options of staying put, selling their houses, or using FEMA funds to have their homes elevated.
“Whenever you get high water, these are the ones that really take the hit,” said Mike Mongelli, Shoshone County’s flood plain administrator.
Three people along the river have already opted to have their homes elevated. One decided to do nothing.
And there’s another round of buyouts on the way in Enaville. VanAsche said 11 homes will be purchased for auction and six will be elevated. He isn’t sure when that will happen.
Duane Jerome is one of those who is waiting. He’s anxious to leave the riverbank because of the flooding danger, but it was a tough decision.
“We’ve been up the river 32 years and lived in this home since 1974,” Jerome said. “All of our children were born and raised on the river. They love this old home.”
It used to be a feed store in the ‘40s, Jerome waxes; then someone who had been drafted into World War II shot the owner. He was on the draft board.
“There’s really a lot of history behind our home,” Jerome said. “It’s sad for us to have to leave. But it’s really in our best interest to get out of here.”
He decided not to have the home elevated because his chimney would have to be taken apart and reassembled. The plumbing would have to be re-routed. He fears it would take years.
“Some houses just aren’t meant to be raised,” he decided. “We’ve already been through a lot with the floods. Why would we want to wait?”
The buyouts are a regular topic inside the Enaville Resort. Owner Joe Peak knows who’s selling, who’s raising, and who’s refusing to move.
Whatever their choice, everyone gets pretty emotional about it.
“They’re our neighbors,” Peak said. “It’s a pretty shattering thing when you have people who have lived a better part of their lives on this part of the river.”
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