Change of venue
Beginning July 1, all county property tax collection and Sheriff’s Office foreclosure sales will take place in the second floor meeting room at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.
Quincy Buffington, 39, is no stranger to tax sales. So when the property he had his eye on came up for auction Tuesday morning, he was ready to outbid his closest competitor.
But this marked the last day that sales for the collection of unpaid property taxes would take place at Kenyon Plaza outside the downtown courthouse.
Beginning in July, Buffington and others will bid at the Hall County Government Center.
All Sheriff’s Office sales of foreclosed properties will take place there, as well.
According to Tax Commissioner Darla Eden, many factors come into the decision to relocate the sales, starting with security.
“The last thing a tax commissioner wants to do is sell someone’s property, and this is where the risk comes in for me,” she said. “Kenyon Plaza has so many open entry and exit points … it is hard to watch all these areas for irregular or unsettling behavior.”
There were 21 properties from across Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Oakwood on the auction block Tuesday ranging in price from $3,400 to nearly $56,000.
Tax liens had been secured on each.
Buffington said he was happy with a winning bid of $4,000 on what he estimated to be a $230,000 property in Gainesville.
It’s an investment that will take at least a year to pay off. Property owners have 12 months to purchase it back.
Nearby foreclosure sales were taking place in the plaza through a private auctioneer.
That’s where Levi Dominguez, 35, said he was learning about the process for the first time at the recommendation of a friend who had invested in real estate.
With court also in session, all the foot traffic turned Eden’s focus to other reasons why a change of venue is needed.
For example, the government center offers a podium and microphone system to conduct auctions, plus television screens to advertise properties for sale.
And access to office resources could help streamline the process, Eden said. “After evaluating the logistics, participants, security and duties involved in property tax sales, it makes sense to have the location be where records are maintained and immediate transactions take place,” she added. “Overall, this will save time and money for Hall County.”