Nearly 65 Montgomery County property owners owing back taxes have until 4 p.m. today to stop their land from going to auction.
Montgomery County foreclosed on approximately 100 properties this year for unpaid 2010 property taxes. Since notice of foreclosure, more than 30 property owners have paid off the back taxes and fees required to retrieve their deeds.
“I don’t like being in the foreclosure business,” said Montgomery County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman, “but it’s not fair to everyone else in the county that’s paying their taxes.”
The Real Property Tax Foreclosure Auction will take place Wednesday in the America’s Best Value Inn in Amsterdam.
“A lot of times a property is worth more than the outstanding property taxes,” he said, “but the purpose of the foreclosure auction is not to make a profit. It’s to get the property back on the tax roll.”
According to Bowerman, this year’s auction will be very similar to the auctions of the past five years, when 50 to 60 properties actually went to auction of the roughly 100 foreclosed upon.
According to Edward Haroff, the auctioneer who will handle the Montgomery County sale, the number of foreclosures does not necessarily mean a bad economy.
“Most counties average 35,000 taxable properties,” he said. “If only a hundred of those are foreclosed upon, that’s less than half of 1 percent. The general public isn’t loosing its homes to foreclosure.”
Properties can carry anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars in back taxes and sell for anywhere between $5,000 to $200,000, according to Haroff.
In past years, the county has made between $80,000 and $150,000 of profit above and beyond the back taxes owed, and that’s revenue that’s figured into each year’s budget.
“We’ve been fortunate to make a profit the last few years,” Bowerman said, “but there have been cases where we’ve taken a loss. Large commercial buildings where the foreclosure was bound up in legal entanglements can accumulate back taxes for years. There can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, which we won’t make back.”
As with most foreclosure auctions, Montgomery County has a diverse bunch of lots.
“I do this for 14 counties around the state,” Haroff said. “I see everything from buildings that should just be demolished to some really beautiful places. You never know what places people aren’t going to pay taxes on.”
Though all property holders still have time to redeem their foreclosed properties, Haroff mentioned one house in the town of Florida, auction lot 35, that is nicer than the rest.
“It needs some TLC,” he said, “but it will turn out to be a great, economical home for someone.”
Most properties go for between 50 percent and 70 percent of their full market value, according to Haroff, and bidders must have cash.
The terms of the auction are an immediate deposit of $1,000 or 20 percent of the winning bid, whichever is greater, and payment of the remainder within 30 days. The 30-day window generally is too short to obtain a mortgage.
For those interested in bidding, the auction company will put on a short presentation Monday in the Montgomery County Annex Building to discuss terms and conditions along with bidding tips.
There will also be an opportunity to view all safe, vacant properties on Tuesday. Haroff encourages potential bidders to talk to a government assessor, code enforcement officer or even adjacent property owners to get a sense of the land.
For more information on the auction or to view the lots, go to www.haroff.com or call 1-800-292-7653.