SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 28) - Sold: a fixer-upper Northern California town, for nearly $1.8 million - on Internet auction site eBay. Now tiny Bridgeville waits to see who its new owner is.
If the deal goes through as expected, 82 acres of Bridgeville will go to the unidentified buyer who put in a bid for $1,777,877 just seconds before the Internet auction closed Friday.
Joe Lapple, who owns Bridgeville along with his wife Elizabeth, said he hopes the new owner will fix up the town, which dates back to the 19th century. But the Lapples won't be hanging around to find out. They've already purchased a new home in Fortuna, about 25 miles away.
``We were just waiting to sell this town and pack up all our stuff and be gone,'' said Joe Lapple.
Bridgeville is the first town to be sold on the Web site, said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. Almost 250 bids were cast during the town's month on the electronic auction block.
``I would say that's above average. That's a pretty heavy level of bidding activity,'' Pursglove said.
The town, which Elizabeth Lapple acknowledged was a fixer-upper, comes complete with a post office, a mile and a half of river bank, a cemetery and more than a dozen cabins and houses. ``Your own zip code will now be 95526,'' the eBay description reads.
About 20 people live in the area affected by the sale; whether they get to stay in the rental properties is entirely up to the new owners, said Denise Stuart, the real estate agent who placed the listing. She said about 600 people live in the surrounding areas.
Bidding went well beyond the asking price of $775,000. It started Nov. 27 at $5,000.
Bridgeville is located 260 miles north of San Francisco in rural Humboldt County. Lapple and her husband Joe have owned the town since 1985.
After conventional means of selling proved unsuccessful, the Lapples decided to try their luck on eBay. They say they put the town up for auction because they couldn't afford the estimated cost of renovating it - about $200,000.
Joe Lapple said the highest bid was more than he expected.
``A million and a half, I figured that was the right price,'' he said.
Final bids for real estate posted on eBay aren't binding.
``It's up to the seller and the high bidder to negotiate how they are going to consummate the deal'' after bidding ends, Pursglove said. ``They'll close the deal offline.''
Stuart said she's received calls from people around the world since bidding closed. Some have offered to buy the property for $2 million.
But the Lapples will stick with the eBay bidder, someone from out of the area who wanted to let the purchase ``sink in'' before coming forward publicly, Stuart said. She expects the deal to be completed within 60 days.
Although there's been interest in the property over the years, no one ever met the asking price - much less offered more than twice that price - until it was posted on eBay.