For Sale!

Published 11:08 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GATESVILLE – Looking to purchase property at rock-bottom prices? If so, look no further than Gates County.

In an effort to dispose of tax foreclosed property, the Gates County Board of Commissioners are taking an aggressive approach in getting this land back on the tax rolls.

The board discussed this issue at length during their Dec. 7 meeting after hearing an update from Gates County Tax Administrator Renee McGinnis.

“We have had three county foreclosure sales recently – two on Nov. 30; one piece of property is located just north of Gates. The opening bid was $4,636.69; right now the county is holding that bid for an upset bid,” McGinnis told the board.

Prior to the sale of that quarter-acre of land (with a tax value of $7,650), the county’s Tax Office formally notified surrounding landowners to see if they were interested in purchase.

“I think what you will see with all three of these properties is it’s just not just worth the investment,” McGinnis said. “We have had people that we knew were interested in purchasing these properties, but they will not come forward. If you, the commissioners, know of anyone that is interested, please put them in touch with my office.”

If there is an upset bid, the purchase scenario is taken back to the courthouse steps where it held open for another 10 days. The details of the property are listed on the county’s website.

“When we market it and entertain any bids, those bids will come back to the board for your approval,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis said once a piece of property comes into the county’s ownership, it’s up to the board to accept or reject that bid.

“When we take it to the courthouse steps our opening bid will be for the taxes owed and all costs that have been incurred to date,” McGinnis stated. “After it comes into the county’s possession and is offered for sale, it’s strictly to you as a board as to what kind of bid you want to accept.”

“What if there is no upset bid,” asked Commissioner Henry Jordan.

“If there is no upset bid then the county owns the property,” McGinnis answered.

“We don’t need an inventory of properties,” Jordan noted. “I know we have one property on (US) 158 that we’ve been holding for years. We need to get rid of that property.”

“We have had some interest in that property, but the first question that’s asked is does it perk and I can’t answer that,” McGinnis said. “They’re not willing to put forth the money to have that perk test done.”

“When we put properties up for foreclosure are we going by the policy we put in place back in November,” asked Jordan.

“Yes,” said McGinnis.

“Well, one of the things the policy says is that once the sale date is set, the county will post signs in the right-of-way of the property, advertising the sale date and opening bid.”

“That we have not done because we have yet to obtain the signs,” McGinnis admitted.

“We have to identify that property, we need everyone passing by there to know that this property is up for sale,” Jordan said. “That’s the policy we approved.”

McGinnis said the attorney fees on these properties are costly.

“That becomes a real problem when these properties come into foreclosure that do not have a very high market value and the percentage of the attorney fees in relation to the property itself really puts you at a serious disadvantage when you try to liquidate these properties,” Commissioner John Hora observed.

“I’d like to see that once we go through the upset bid process and there are no upset bids that all those properties come back to the board and let’s put a price on them,” Jordan suggested. “Let’s get those signs out there and sell them.”

“At least by your February meeting we’ll try to get all the costs together on these properties, get them to you in advance of that meeting so you can have some type of figures (purchase price) in your mind,” McGinnis said.

“We can also post the asking price and the current bid on the county’s website and let the public know they have x number of days to upset that bid,” Hora said.

Jordan encouraged County Manager Toby Chappell to act quickly on having the “For Sale” signs produced and erected.

Commissioner Jack Owens said in cases where the property is located on a back road, he would like to see “For Sale” (Tax Foreclosure sale) signs erected on connecting roads to help guide prospective buyers.

To make it clear, Commission Chairman Graham Twine said the three pieces of property mentioned at this meeting were:

NC 37 north of Gates (one-quarter acre);

Tuggie Eure Road between US 158 and US 13 (one acre); and

Lassiter Lane in Sunbury (one-half acre).

For more information on these properties, contact the Gates County Tax Office at 357-2411 (ext. 4).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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