Only one bid received for home won in San Mar raffle

July 17, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

BIG POOL -- It's the house that thousands wanted to win, but no one seems to want to buy.

At least, that was the implication at an auction Wednesday night, where Dennis Weaver received only one bid for a restored farmhouse near Big Pool that he won in a San Mar Children's Home raffle in March.

The house was appraised at the time of the raffle for $380,000, but on Wednesday, the small crowd gathered on the front porch remained silent as auctioneer Denny Stouffer, seeking an opening bid, chanted numbers down to $160,000.

The house already had received an absentee bid of $150,000 from a man who left before the auction began, but because it was a reserve auction, Weaver had the right to reject any bid, Stouffer said.


Weaver said he turned down the $150,000 offer because he owes more than that in income taxes on his unexpected prize.

"I didn't want to lose money," Weaver said.

So Stouffer chanted the $150,000 to $160,000 opening bid level for several long minutes, goading the crowd with comments like "Gentlemen, I think we're wasting our time. No one wants to bid," and "Maybe we should have the police out here. That's robbery!"

In the end, Stouffer put the auction in an indefinite recess, informing the crowd that bids could still be submitted through midnight.

There were at least eight registered bidders at the auction, but many of them seemed to have no real interest in making an offer, Stouffer said.

Three people said they were interested, but hadn't come prepared to pay the $10,000 nonrefundable down payment, he said.

Stouffer said late Wednesday that a woman planned to make an offer today.

Weaver said he was disappointed the house didn't sell.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said. "It's hard for me to believe it didn't get over $200,000, at least."

Weaver, who serves as the clerk of Washington County Circuit Court, said he bought one $100 ticket for the San Mar raffle to help out the organization, which operates group homes for teenage girls. When he won the house, he considered moving into it, but decided it was too big for him.

"I just decided selling it would be the best thing," he said.

Weaver said he had to take out a mortgage on the house to cover more than $130,000 he owed immediately in federal and state income tax withholding. What he actually owes in taxes on the prize is likely to be at least $40,000 more than that, he said.

Weaver said he decided to try the auction format to get the house sold as quickly as possible.

"I didn't want to sit on it for a long time," he said.

Now, it looks like he might have no choice. If the house doesn't get an acceptable offer in the next few days, Weaver said he will give up his apartment in Hagerstown and move into the farmhouse to avoid paying rent on top of his mortgage.

He said he will take the next few weeks to decide whether to list the house immediately or wait for the real estate market to improve.

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