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Some see turnout for Williston auction as 'sign of optimism'

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Bidding was competitive Thursday as auctioneers sold off 23 vacant lots owned by Halliburton in Williston. Twenty-one residential lots in Williston's Harvest Hills neighborhood sold for between $30,000 and $40,000 each. William...

Delvin Heldermon, right, of Williams and Williams Real Estate Auctions, conducts a live auction Thursday, June 30, 2016, in Williston, N.D., of 23 vacant lots owned by Halliburton. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service
Delvin Heldermon, right, of Williams and Williams Real Estate Auctions, conducts a live auction Thursday, June 30, 2016, in Williston, N.D., of 23 vacant lots owned by Halliburton. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. - Bidding was competitive Thursday as auctioneers sold off 23 vacant lots owned by Halliburton in Williston.

Twenty-one residential lots in Williston's Harvest Hills neighborhood sold for between $30,000 and $40,000 each.

Williams County listed the value of the residential lots as between $50,000 and $70,000 in 2015.

Tom Rolfstad, Williston's former economic development director, said the sale prices went higher than he expected.

"I think it's a sign of optimism," Rolfstad said.

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Home building has stalled in Williston along with the drop in oil prices. So far this year, the city had permitted just four new single family homes as of the end of May.

Despite the slowdown, 32 registered bidders attended the live auction and five people placed bids online.

Delvin Heldermon of Williams and Williams Real Estate Auction, which is also selling other Halliburton properties around the country, called the turnout in Williston "outstanding."

The sales ranged from a bidder who bought one lot as an individual investment to a couple who bought about half of the residential lots.

Two commercial lots owned by Halliburton sold for about $165,000 each.

Roger Cymbaluk, owner of Basin Brokers in Williston, who was bidding on behalf of a client, was pleased with the auction.

"It feels good to know there's confidence in Williston," Cymbaluk said.

Halliburton, which built housing for employees during the height of the Bakken oil boom when housing was in short supply, only sold the vacant lots and not any of the company's homes or apartments.

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Tom Holliday, owner of Williston Housing, which owns a similar number of vacant lots in the same neighborhood, was monitoring the auction.

"I'm interested in what my competition is going to be," he said.

Bill Murphy, co-owner of RE/MAX Bakken Realty, said while low oil prices have slowed the housing market, he predicts it will shift quickly when oil prices improve.

"All of a sudden, we will have a shortage of homes again," Murphy said.

Greg Nible, who lives next door to one of the vacant lots, attended the auction out of curiosity. He said he's interested in buying the lot to expand his yard, but he didn't have the money to spend.

"I think it's still a lot for what's happening in the economy," Nible said.

Thirty-two registered bidders attended a live auction Thursday, June 30, 2016, of lots owned by Halliburton in Williston, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service
Thirty-two registered bidders attended a live auction Thursday, June 30, 2016, of lots owned by Halliburton in Williston, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

Related Topics: REAL ESTATE
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