FORT WAYNE – Allen County coffers gained nearly $790,000 in back property taxes during this years tax sale.
About 200 people from all over the country showed up Wednesday to bid on 667 properties with $1.7 million in taxes owed, county Treasurer Sue Orth said.
Properties that are at least 18 months delinquent are eligible to be sold at the auction, and properties that did not sell will be deeded to the county, Orth said.
The auction brought in about $6 million in total property sales, county Auditor Tera Klutz said.
This years sales of 310 properties fell below the 436 properties sold in 2012, which Klutz said is a good sign.
Tax sales mean people cannot afford to pay their property taxes, Klutz said. If more people can pay taxes and keep their properties, then we have fewer properties in the tax sale, and thats positive.
The number of properties in the sale has steadily dropped since 2010, when the county had 1,416 properties for sale.
The $789,390 in back taxes the county will receive is also less than the $1.1 million received at last years sale.
Top sales included the Avenir Inn at 1005 Washington Center Road, $900,000; a commercial property at 7337 W. Jefferson Blvd., $487,000; and a home at 8707 Greyhawk Drive, $245,000.
The tax sale is the result of the county trying to sell property liens to third parties because property owners have fallen behind on property tax payments. Owners can pay up until the day of the sale to keep their properties out of the auction.
If the property is sold at the tax sale, original property owners are given a redemption period of one year to repay the taxes they owe and regain their property.
Eventually, if tax obligations are not met and properties are not sold at the tax sale, the county takes ownership, turning it over to the Allen County Community Development Corp., which sells the properties through a bidding process.