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Residents are not taking the bait at tax sales
Officials having trouble shedding unwanted property
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Hall County is holding on to a number of properties that just won’t sell.

Tax Commissioner Keith Echols said the county has had trouble moving some of the less desirable property during tax sales over the past few months, leaving the county with few options.

“With the economy and the way it is, (people) don’t want to take on extra property and pay taxes,” Echols said.
“We’ve gotten several parcels that we didn’t get any bids on.”

Echols said Hall County imposes a tax lien on a piece of property if the taxes on it have not been paid 90 days after the due date.

“We advertise for four weeks before the sale and then we go out and post it. In other words, we put a stake up with all the details of the tax sale,” Echols said. “We start the bidding process at the amount of taxes owed.”

Buyers at a tax sale satisfy the property owner’s debt and then hold the property for at least a year to give the owner the opportunity to redeem it.

“Our tax lien sale is not like a foreclosure,” Echols said. “We sell the lien.”

This year, not even adjacent property owners are willing to gamble on properties they may not be able profit from.

“The people around the area knew that property was for sale, but they just were not interested in buying it because it was just such a small lot they can’t build on it or there’s a creek or something,” Echols said. “We’ve got a lot of parcels like that we just can’t sell.”

Echols said the tax liens that can’t be sold amount to about $33,000 in taxes owed, including penalties and interest.

Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton said when the county does not technically own the properties, so they can either continue to put them up for public option or buy them.

“There is a way for the county to buy the property and then later surplus it and again bid it out to someone else,” Sutton said. “The process is the same, except for a surplus piece of property it is possible for the county to negotiate with an adjacent landowner to dispose of the property. That’s a very speculative thing, but it has been done in the past.”

Sutton said he doesn’t think holding on to the extra property is an issue.

“It’s not a lot of properties,” Sutton said. “The market’s not particularly good right now, so when the market starts to improve, maybe the properties will be more interesting to people.”

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