BINGHAMTON -- What's the difference between nearly $8,000 an acre and $2,000 an acre?
Location, location, location. That, and possibly a property's proximity to the thickest part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
It's only speculation, but properties located close to the border with Pennsylvania that include mineral rights may be selling for more at auction, said Kevin Keough, Broome County's Director of Real Property.
Broome County grossed about $916,000 on about 80 foreclosed properties seized for back taxes and auctioned off on Saturday, Keough said. The properties ranged from single-family and multi-family buildings to vacant lots.
About 181 people showed up to look for good buys at the auction, said auctioneer Mel Manasse, whose auction business sold off Saturday's foreclosed properties.
One thing appears clear: Properties up to 5 acres include gas and mineral rights, and they may be selling for more money if they lie along the Pennsylvania line.
A 3-acre parcel with mineral rights in the Town of Binghamton on Saturday sold for $23,000, or just under $8,000 an acre.
Compare that to the $2,000 an acre on a 7-acre piece of property in the Town of Colesville, which didn't include mineral rights.
The difference in price based on location is a trend that Keough has noticed since July's tax foreclosure sale on Broome County properties.
"The per-acre price is up in some areas," Keough said. "We can make a good assumption that location may play a role in that."
The Marcellus Shale is thickest -- and potentially more lucrative -- along the New York border with Pennsylvania. The shale formation is the largest natural gas deposit in the nation. It's being tapped in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. However, drilling in the shale in New York is on hold while regulations are drawn up to govern hydraulic fracturing in horizontal drilling.
The size of the property also plays a role in its value.
Mineral rights on foreclosed properties that are more than 5 acres stay with Broome County. That's a policy set by the Broome County legislature last year to retain mineral rights -- and potential royalties -- on larger parcels of property for county coffers, when and if drilling begins in New York.
Land that doesn't appear to be worth much now may generate cash from energy companies in the future. Some of Saturday's buyers were hoping that will be the case.
Others were just looking for a bargain.
Dave Bradbury bid on several properties, but didn't end up with the winning bids.
There were some real good buys, the Johnson City resident said. A two-story colonial with a two-car garage and pool in a nice subdivision on Hillcrest sold for $97,000. The property was assessed at $123,600, tax records show.
Another property -- .41 acres on Faulkner Road in the Town of Sanford -- sold for $14,500. That's likely because the property is located along the Delaware River, Keough said. Waterfront property typically commands more money.