Tax lien sale could bring half-million-plus to county

Published 10:16 am Friday, July 23, 2010

Approximately $660,000 in back taxes on 300 delinquent parcels may be recouped in the county’s first ever tax lien sale.

The sale, slated for Monday, Aug. 23 at the courthouse, will be conducted through the county treasurer’s office.

This differs from the delinquent tax sales held last year where properties not purchased the first time were put up for bid two subsequent times, the last for a reduced price.

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“There the property transferred with all liens,” Stephen Burcham, county treasurer, said.

In a tax lien sale, the successful buyer pays only the back taxes on the property, plus administrative costs, penalties and interest.

However, the potential buyers bid not on the taxes or the property value but on an interest rate they may receive if the property owner redeems the parcel, Burcham said.

Owners have one year in which to pay all taxes and get their property back. If they do or if mortgage holders redeem the property, they must pay the lien sale buyer the amount of the back taxes, plus a specified interest rate on those taxes, along with administrative fees, penalties and interest.

Determining that rate is the purpose of the tax lien sale.

“The interest rate starts at 18 percent and goes down in quarter point increments to no less than zero,” Burcham said.

If the property is not redeemed, the lien sale bidder must then go through a foreclosure proceeding before the parcel is his.

“Thirteen years ago, the 12 largest counties in the state were granted this avenue by the state legislature,” Burcham said. “This has been extended to all counties.”

The sale is to start 10 a.m. on the courthouse steps.

There will be an informational meeting 10 days before the sale where a lawyer will explain the procedure and answer any questions.

“I think it will help the county because by going to this foreclosure procedure it will clean up some of these properties which have been abandoned,” Burcham said. “Mortgage companies that do not have a presence in Lawrence County may have made a loan to someone who has since abandoned the property.

“Some of these companies they find on the Internet. These companies don’t even know they have a lien. This is one way to clean up these problem properties.”