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Posted on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

Open bid: $350 for every property in 'last chance' tax foreclosure auction

By Paula Gardner

Real estate owners, buyers, speculators and lenders have wondered for years: How low can prices go?

They’re about to find out at the “last chance” tax foreclosure auction scheduled by Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary for Tuesday morning.


Washtenaw County

That’s the last day that, by law, the county can try to sell the properties to recoup the two years of unpaid taxes, in addition to penalties and fees.

The list of 21 available properties ranges from a 66’ by 60’ vacant lot in the city of Ypsilanti assessed at $2,500 to two groups of subdivision development land in Ypsilanti Township, each valued at about $1 million.

In each case, the opening bid is $350.

“From a bidder’s perspective, I don’t know where you can buy acres and acres of land for single family homes for $350,” McClary said.

The auction starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Washtenaw County Courthouse. It’s a live auction, as opposed to previous tax foreclosure auctions, which were run by an online auction company.

The reasons, McClary said, include the fact that the county already held its last-chance online auction, but officials were left with 21 properties still unsold after the last round. They also heard some feedback that the auctions were ending too close together, McClary said. That situation meant that some bidders who were outbid on parcels they wanted didn’t have the time to redirect their bids to other properties.

There are some things that potential bidders should know. The properties are all sold as-is, and a buyer will be responsible for paying all 2011 taxes. And after a purchase, the county won’t be liable for any additional liens or other issues arising from the property. A list of conditions and disclosures can be found on the county’s website.

Bidders also need to bring $350 in certified funds.

McClary said the 2011 tax foreclosure auctions set a record, with 639 properties listed for sale.

Her office continues to compile sales totals, and McClary said she’s hopeful that this last-chance auction can generate some needed tax revenue for the municipalities. She doesn't expect to break even.

Because her office advances tax payments, she’s already made the payments for the parcels. If the properties don’t sell, the municipalities will have to assume ownership - and reimburse the county for the unpaid taxes.

“Any money that we get helps all the other taxpayers,” McClary said. “… If we can sell these, even for $350, they go back on the tax rolls,” she added.

The properties are in four jurisdictions Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Scio Township, and Ann Arbor. See a full list.



Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Is there going to be a followup story with the results? I am rather curious to find out how things actually went.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

There is a mistake in the article and the comments concerning the word "foreclosure". These properties have not been foreclosed but "confiscated" for taxes due. A lender can foreclose on properties but the Government confiscates property for taxes due. Property taxes tell you that you do not own your home the government does. I would rather pay income tax or sales tax or gas tax to support the government's operations so that I could live in peace in my home knowing that I really own it. What about you people?


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Too bad we are just finding out about this now. It might have been better to post a story about this a few days in advance so that people would have a chance to check out the properties and go to the auction. I am just reading this now - an hour after the auction started.


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

Buy the property donate it to a Metropark or the state and then write it off as a tax donation. Anyone in the mood for a new park?


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

What's with the skinny strip being auctioned on Huron in Ann Arbor? Maybe someone could put a single lane lawn bowling alley there? Of course, you would need a helicopter to land you there, since there isn't any other way to get to it.


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Or maybe you could park your car there if you worked downtown. That seems like it would be worth $350.


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

:) Maybe a spaghetti farm?

Paula Gardner

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

Yes, "outbid." Sorry. Just made the change. The tax liability does have to be a consideration, especially bidders have to pay all of the 2011 taxes and it's not likely that assessments will suddenly drop down to reflect the $350 purchase price.


Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 9:55 p.m.

I just looked through the list of properties, and from what I can see the vast majority of them are a larger liability than is worthwhile even at the $350 cost. A few of those properties are just absolute junk. Others come with MEGA tax liability that would be unlikely to be offset by the bleak possibility of future sale.


Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

"That situation meant that some bidders who were overbid on parcels they wanted didn't have the time to redirect their bids to other properties." I think that should be "outbid", not "overbid"

Dog Guy

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

The ever-higher taxes have not only supported me for decades and decades, they also supply so many tax-foreclosure bargains. What a wonderful system!