Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Wayne County’s tax foreclosure sale

Some great deals, some not so great deals, some hanky panky by bidders, some property owners calling foul


As tax foreclosure sales go, this was Wayne County’s biggest. Wayne County Treasurer Tom Warnick attributed the increase in properties seized owing back taxes to the slump in the economy. Seventy-four properties, an increase of about 1/3 over last year, were scooped up by bidders at the June 26th auction that gave the County a chance to recoup taxes in arrears for the past three years.

Winning bidders were informed of the rules and property owners owing back taxes to the County were not allowed to either bid on their own properties, or any others in the properties in the auction. Winning bidders were required to put down a 10% non-refundable deposit.

One bidder got their wish fulfilled and the County made out well, as one waterfront property, a home assessed at close to $400,000 on Emerald Point Road on Sodus Bay sold for $180,000. Other homes, vacant lands and an odd assortment of properties also found new owners.

Unfortunately, one person’s gain is another’s loss. Following the auction it was discovered that one man bid and won 10 properties, only to be later disqualified after it was learned he too owed back taxes on a County property.
The County Finance Committee met on Tuesday and reviewed the auction sales and they were plied with letters from ousted owners asking for a late reprieve on losing their properties.

The reasons given for failing to pay three years of back taxes, or not setting up any payment plans ran the gamut of excuses. Some legitimate property owners admitted they fell on hard times, others blamed the U.S. mail for losing all the notices sent out over the years. Still others blamed forgetfulness of taxes, wrong dates and some pointed the finger at the County.

The man holding the mortgage for the owner on the Emerald Point property thought that, since the property sold for more than the taxes owed on it, the County should share some of the auction money with him. The Committee disagreed.

In the end, the Finance Committee rejected all the letters and allowed the auction to stand. In certain cases when the original bidder backed out, the deposit was lost and the second highest bidder was allowed to make the purchase.
The Board of Supervisors will make the auction purchases final at this Tuesday’s Board meeting.