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July 2, 2013

County plans to auction properties

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Looking for a house, camp or acreage at a bargain price?

More than 60 tax-delinquent Otsego County properties will be sold at auction August 14, officials said Monday.

For the second year in a row, the real estate will go under the gavel at the Holiday Inn at 5206 State Route 23 in Oneonta. The sale will be managed by Haroff Auction & Realty Inc.

Ed Haroff, a retired state trooper who will oversee the auction, said recent sales involving other upstate county’s tax-delinquent properties who that the economy is getting stronger, with more people turning out to invest in what they hope will be a bargain.

Urging potential bidders to inspect the lots before they commit themselves with a bid, Haroff said: “I want people to be happy buyers. Would you buy a used car without looking at it?”

Acting Otsego County Treasurer Russell Bachman and his assistant, Savannah Bresee, said they anticipate that 65 properties will be offered at the Aug. 14 sale.

The owners of the parcels had until last Friday to pay their tax bills in order to avoid having the real estate sold. Bachman said only property owners who have been behind in their tax obligations since 2010 will lose their properties. Most counties, he said, begin auctioning delinquent properties after the tax bills have gone unpaid for just two years.

Those interested in purchasing a property for which they will need a mortgage are encouraged to consult with a financial institution prior to the sale so that hey can get pre-approval for a mortgage, Bachman said.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for younger people just starting out and don’t mind getting involved with a fixer-upper,” Bachman said.

There are a variety of reasons why people get so far behind in their taxes that they lose their property, he noted. Oftentimes, he noted, it relates to unexpected and overwhelming health care expenses.

Haroff said he will be traveling to Otsego County next week to post signs at the properties and to take photographs of the lots and structures. A sales catalogue is expected to be available by July 14 and will be posted online at Printed brochures will also be available at the county treasurer’s office in Cooperstown.

On the day of the auction, bidders may begin registering at 9 a.m. The sale will begin at 11 a.m.

Buyers, on the day of the sale, must put down at least $1,000 or 20 percent of the total transaction — the auction price and all associated fees — whichever amount is higher, Haroff said.

Bachman said he is hoping the county will recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars to offset the taxes that were never collected. By selling the properties, the county will e restoring those lots to the tax rolls, he noted.

By the time they are ready to be auctioned, Haroff said, delinquent properties are rarely occupied by the owners.

The auction is also open to Internet and telephone bidding, officials said.

At last year’s sale, Otsego County sold 50 properties through the Haroff-run auction.