The Town of Faro has started selling homes that were abandoned when the mine near the town was closed. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Abandoned Faro mine homes go up for sale

More than two dozen properties, starting at $12,000, hit the market

After decades of sitting abandoned, homes left behind when the Faro mine closed are now up for sale.

The Town of Faro put 29 properties on the market “over the counter” starting July 12. That’s more than the six or so officials were originally thinking would go on sale this summer.

“Council decided that they wanted to move as many of them as possible or at least give the opportunity to move them this summer,” chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop said.

The properties include a mix of empty lots, single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes and row houses. Each one is being sold for what is owed to the town in property taxes. The price tags range from nearly $12,000 to more than $100,000 a lot.

Faro’s lead-zinc mine closed in 1997. Housing owned by the mining company was left empty when staff moved away. When the company went bankrupt property taxes went unpaid. The Town of Faro officially took over ownership of the buildings late last year.

After two days on the market, buyers have already applied to purchase three of the lots, Dunlop said.

“There have been people calling in from Whitehorse wanting more information and of course we know people locally have been kicking the tires.”

After years of neglect many of the buildings for sale require extensive work. The town is offering incentives for buyers willing to put in the elbow grease.

Each sale includes a “reno or demo” clause. That means buyers can get money back — up to half the purchase price — for work that is completed within two or three years.

“We wanted to come up with something that would really encourage people to start redeveloping the properties sooner rather than sitting on them because we’ve sat on them long enough,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop said there are home inspections from a few years ago for some of the homes as well as a few hazardous material reports.

If reports don’t exist on a building that’s for sale buyers will be offered copies of reports on similar properties. Everything is being sold on an “as is, where is, buyer beware” basis.

Along with the over-the-counter sales, the town is planning to put 10 lots up for bidding sometime in August. The starting bids for those properties will be the value of the land. Those initial prices will range from $4,250 to $9,900.

Town officials realize that even with incentives the town may be left with unsold properties. Some other buildings were not put on the market because they’re considered too far gone to be renovated or too complicated to sell.

If council eventually decides to demolish those buildings, the town is going to need help from the territorial or federal governments, Dunlop said.

“Knowing that there’s some asbestos materials and that kind of thing that will make them quite expensive to demolish, (so) we’re hoping there would be some assistance.”

That could mean financial support from either the territorial government or Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. It might also mean help finding a place to dispose of the demolished buildings so as not fill up the local landfill, he said.

The town is planning to meet with both levels of government next month to talk about what it needs.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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