Going once, going twice … sold!

Published 8:11 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By Staff
Bidders submit offers during foreclosure sale
Contributing Editor
Richard Brooks took advantage of a tax-foreclosure sale Friday to bid $4,000 on a lot adjacent to another property he owns in Washington.
Brooks, a Washington city councilman, will obtain the lot if no one submits an upset bid within 10 days. The unpaid taxes on the lot came to $1,670.28. (See related story about the upset-bid process.)
Brooks said “unbuildable” lots have little, if any, value to anyone except for neighboring property owners. Brooks explained that the property owners could want the lots to augment their adjoining properties.
Seventeen properties were originally on the “for-sale” list, but seven were removed after property owners paid delinquent taxes or declared bankruptcy. The sale was conducted by Mark Bardill, founder of Zacchaeus Legal Service, which contracts tax-foreclosure services to the county.
Interviewed after the sale, County Manager Paul Spruill discussed distinctions between tax-foreclosure and mortgage-foreclosure sales.
The county conducts periodic tax-foreclosure sales when property owners become delinquent in their property taxes, he said.
On the other hand, lending institutions conduct mortgage-foreclosure sales when property owners default on their mortgages. Such sales, Spruill noted, increase during tough economic times such as the current one.
Clerk of Court Marty Paramore also emphasized that Friday’s tax-foreclosure sale was less a direct result of the recession and more in response to property owners having not paid taxes for several years.
Spruill concurred, but speculated that the recession is expected to increase, to some degree, the number of delinquent taxpayers in the county.
Since 2004, the county has sold 50 parcels through tax-foreclosure sales, Spruill said. The number of such sales has remained at a constant level each year since 2004, he said. The impetus behind Friday’s sale was simple, Spruill said.
Spruill and Paramore believe there will be a noticeable increase in mortgage foreclosures in the coming months as a result of the recession.
Ten notices of mortgage-foreclosure sales were posted at the courthouse Friday.
Asked if he expected to see more such notices posted in the coming months, Paramore replied: “That’s fair to say.”
Unpaid property taxes will still be fair game for foreclosures, too — even when the economy rebounds, Spruill said.
Cutline for corresponding photo: Auctioneer Mark Bardill with Zacchaeus Legal Service auctions Beaufort County tax-foreclosed properties on Friday in the Beaufort County Courthouse. Bardill works for the county by contract. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)