"It's been unreal, really, all the inquiries we are getting," said Moody. "This morning, I had to be at Mountain Home at 8 a.m. to show a property. When you called, I was talking to a lady who wanted to know about another property."
Moody, who owns Moody Realty in Salem, is the point man for 50 Arkansas properties to be auctioned off on Friday, March 18, at 10 a.m., at Ozarka College in Ash Flat.
Moody is affiliated with United Country, a large national real estate company based in Kansas City.
"United Country does these multi-property auctions in other areas," said Moody, " but this is the first one in our area."
Besides the 50 Arkansas properties, Salem, Missouri broker, Joan Sample, is handling four Missouri properties, which are included in the auction.
"Multi-property auctions are happening all over the country and we are going to be seeing a lot more," said Brad Wooley, a Little Rock-based auctioneer who will oversee the auction. "Banks have had to foreclose on so many properties because of the economy, people losing their jobs, losing their ability to keep up with payments. Many banks simply have too much inventory and must divest."
All of the properties in the March 18 auction are owned by the First National Banking Company (FNBC). After trying to sell foreclosed properties on its own, the bank accepted United Country's proposal to hold a multi-property auction.
The properties are located in 19 area cities, towns and on back roads from Batesville and Melbourne to Salem and West Plains to Ash Flat, Highland and Hardy.
"January 15th, we began putting signs on the properties and advertising the auction," said Moody. "The word is definitely out. Between the Internet and calls, we've gotten 2,500 to 3,000 inquiries, easy."
Moody admits he did not expect such a response. He has personally shown auction properties to nearly 100 people.
He is not complaining, but he says, "I've been working seven days a week. This is hotter than a firecracker."
One thing drawing interest is the fact that 20 of the properties will be sold at "absolute" auction. That means there will be no minimum bid when the properties come up for sale. The highest bidder will win the property, no matter how low the bid is.
Properties listed for absolute sale include the historic Castleberry Building and the former Premier Furniture and Rent-a-Center buildings on the east side of the Salem square.
"We've had a surprising amount of interest in the properties on the Salem square," said Wooley.
That is good news to other merchants on the square, who would like to see the empty spaces purchased and filled with new tenants.
"The square is sort of the heart of the community," said Paula Bowers, owner of The Trading Company on the square. "More businesses on the square would not be competition. When people come here for businesses and services, they look around. It helps us all."
Many who are aware of the auction are hopeful it will result in a effort to save and restore the Castleberry building, the big stone building on the north east corner of the square. It is often mentioned as being perfect for a store or restaurant on the first floor and housing on the top two stories.
"People love the Castleberry Building and it would be great to see something good happen with it," said Kristina Breen, owner of Sweet Repeats Consignments, who is also excited about the possibility the auction will bring new businesses to the square.
Other absolute sale properties include two nice looking manufactured homes in Mammoth Spring and a vacant auto repair shop in Hardy.
Moody says he is getting even more contacts about the properties where there will be a minimum bid. Moody believes that is because homes and businesses with a "reserve" are generally newer, more expensive properties, which have all been reappraised.
Wooley says, "Prices should be good, even with a reserve, because the bank is really motivated to sell. It just needs a safety net on some of the more expensive properties."
Properties to be sold with a reserve include a lakefront residence in Cherokee Village, a 51 acre farm with a four bedroom home in Mountain Home and a 216 acre farm in the Ash Flat area with a mile of river frontage, a covered horse arena and an older home.
Besides homes and businesses, acreage will be available, ranging from 12 acres on Big Creek in the Ash Flat area to 63 wooded acres in Mammoth Spring to two lots in the Twin Rivers Addition in Hardy.
Another category of property is campsites. One campsite in the River Bend Park at Hardy will be sold at absolute auction. Another River Bend property is 40 deeded campsites to be sold as one property at absolute sale.
People interested in viewing the properties and getting information can go to a Web site: www.LiveMultiPropertyAuction.com. The Web site contains a link for interested parties to ask questions by e-mail.
Auctioneer Wooley advises people who intend to bid to arrive before the 10 a.m. start, to register and obtain their bidder numbers. Wooley expects a good turnout at the Ozarka College Lecture Room.
"By marketing these properties in a multi-property auction, we have gotten a lot of people's attention," said Wooley. "We're excited and the bank is excited too."
"We're going to sell 50 properties in one day (54 counting Missouri properties)," said Moody. "This should help the entire area to get properties out of the foreclosed inventory and in the hands of new owners."