Oakland County’s annual foreclosure sale has gone high-tech. For the first time, bidders can review county vacant lots, private homes and commercial properties and submit their offers online.
County Treasurer Robert Wittenberg said the county switched to online auctions for several reasons. The county’s traditional auctioneers were retired and the brick-and-mortar auction site they needed was sold to United Wholesale Mortgage.
Moving online will make the auction safer post-pandemic, more accessible to more people, and more transparent, he said.
From now until August 12th, the last day of the auction, people can visit tax-sale.info to view properties and place bids online.
“It’s like eBay. You enter your highest bid,” Wittenberg said. When the auction starts, you can see the highest bid in real time and bid accordingly. ”
Members of the public can browse the auction schedule without creating an account, as well as browse auction sales books and catalogs. To get your details, you must have an account, which requires your driver’s license number and the last four digits of your social security number.
According to Megan Buwalda, tax-sale.info’s operations manager, the website uses a secure identity verification service for this process, and tax-sale.info does not share driver’s license or social security number information. Not saved. According to her, the background verification process is an important step in ensuring the integrity of each tax auction.
“That information is only used to verify the account at the time of creation,” she says, preventing anyone from creating an account using a fake name.
Wittenberg said counties and states require such identification as part of their legal requirements to transfer property rights.
“We’re trying to make sure the bad guys aren’t there,” said Wittenberg. “Forbids people who are behind on taxes from bidding on real estate. The whole point is to put these parcels back on taxable rolls. Yes, but you won’t pay taxes and it will be seized again.”
For those considering bidding, expect $1,000 to be held on your Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit card. The hold usually lasts up to 30 days, according to the facts on tax-sale.info. Here you can find video tutorials on how to use the website and how to submit bids.
Persons outside the United States may also bid on properties, but must complete a separate form to be individually approved to place a bid.
Bidders can set automatic defaults so that the proposed price rises in response to other bids, he said.
“Bids are incrementally raised to a threshold you set, say, $10,000,” he said.
The legal or statutory process leading to tax garnishment takes three years. The first time a property owner fails to pay taxes to the local government, it becomes delinquent. If the debt is not paid, the municipality sells the debt to the county.
“We’re kind of a community collector,” says Wittenberg. The county pays the city, township, or village any overdue taxes, fines, and fees, and in the second year, contacts the property owner to repay the first year and his second year debts. increase.
During the second and third years the property owner is behind in paying taxes, county officials work to pay the full amount or create a repayment schedule.
These efforts end at the end of Year 3.
“Anyone who owed 2019 or earlier taxes this year could have been foreclosed,” Wittenberg said, unless the property owner was actively working to pay it off with the county.
If the property appears vacant, or if the owner is underwater and unable to sell what they are renting, county officials will visit the property several times to contact the owner and send dozens of letters. I am sending the above letter.
“If we seize a property, we will do everything we can to investigate it,” he said.
Sometimes owners let the county know that they simply don’t want the property or can’t repay what they owe.
After all efforts have been exhausted to contact the owner, the county will move to a tax foreclosure and auction of the property. Thousands of property owners in the county default on their taxes each year, he said. Relatively few are auctioned due to back taxes.
“Most people find a way to pay off their debt,” Wittenberg said.
This year, 376 properties were posted. While the numbers may seem high, he said there were no tax foreclosure sales in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. In 2019, the county auctioned 185 properties. A year ago the county listed 291. During the pandemic, county officials have created what he called “strong outreach” to help people avoid losing property, he said.
Otherwise, this year’s numbers would have been dramatically higher, he said.
Most of the parcels auctioned this year contain vacant lots or vacant buildings.
Some of the 376 parcels were combined, so the Oakland County auction listing shows 372 parcels available for bid. Bidders may not separate the combined property and may not inspect the building prior to the auction.
Before the public has a chance to bid, counties give states, then municipalities, the initial right to refuse to purchase real estate for back taxes, interest, fees, and maintenance costs. He’s third in the order the county will consider buying the property before it goes on public sale.
Another step the county takes is to send invoices and letters to stakeholders, such as property owners and banks holding mortgages, telling them that they can claim the surplus money.
This year, only one property ready for auction on July 1 has two stakeholder claims, and all other properties have one claim, he said.
Wittenberg said the local community could get it at the lowest bid if no one claimed the property.
However, if someone files a claim for property purchased by a state, municipality, or county, the agency must pay twice the state’s equalized value for the property.
Even if that cash is injected, the person who made the claim cannot use the money on the tax-seized property.
“You can’t reverse a foreclosure,” he said. “They need to file a claim to figure out how much more the judge makes the whole community.”
Michigan-based Tax-Sale.Info hosts online auctions not only in Michigan, but in more than 70 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
Online tax auctions cost the taxpayer nothing. Buyer pays Buyer’s commission in addition to the purchase price they pay for what is sold. There is an additional percentage fee that goes to the company that sells it.
She declined to disclose county-level data, but Bwalda said the site receives about 10,000 visitors each week during the July-August auction season.
Bwalda said if no one bids on the parcel during this auction, it will be put up for sale again in the fall, with a bid by Friday, October 28.
People can go to tax-sale.info to watch online auctions, but they need to create an account to get parcel details and provide credit card information to bid. Those unable to bid online can use the telephone bidding system at tax-sale.info at (800) 259-7470.