Sixty-two properties were sold for a total sales price of $3,565,850 at the San Diego County Property Tax Sale Auction on Wednesday, the county’s treasurer-tax collector said.
Of those properties, 42 were unimproved and 15 were improved. Most of the properties offered are typically unimproved, Dan McAllister said, but the “quality of the improved properties” has picked up in the past two years.
“Previously, if we got an improved property, it wasn’t very improved,” McAllister said. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years. There’s a consistent pattern of those that don’t pay taxes usually don’t pay mortgages. And those that don’t pay mortgages or taxes usually don’t maintain their properties. We see more less-than-quality improved properties normally, but the last two years have been exceptions because we’ve seen a few more coming via the bad economy.”
Properties are offered at auction after five years of defaulted taxes. There were 72 properties offered at sale Wednesday ranging from about $1,100 to $472,000. The remaining 10 unsold properties may be sold online when timeshares are offered or may wait until next year’s auction, but that has yet to be decided, McAllister said.
“There were quality properties that we did not see before last year again this year. I expect it to continue for the next two-to-three years as we work out of these difficult times,” McAllister said.
There were 298 bidders registered and many picked up more than one parcel. Others were attending for the first time as an opportunity to observe before returning next year as full time bidders, McAllister said.
“There were a lot of energized people and bidders looking for good deals,” McAllister said. “People have a sense – people with cash – that the market is starting to improve and if they’re going to pick up deals, this is the time.”
McAllister said some of those who picked up deals were house flippers who will potentially put $100,000 into the home with amenities and put it back on the market.
“This helps the economy. It helps us on the tax side. It helps with valuation ultimately and it helps improve properties,” McAllister said. “It’s a win-win-win.”
In 2012, almost 100 properties were offered for sale and 37 were sold.
“Much more assertive buyers showed up this year,” McAllister said. “Part of it was due to the efforts of local title companies that really got out and spread the word. That was positive for us. They contacted their clients and real estate agents they work with and were able to bring a lot of potential bidders to the table, who may not have known about the sale last year.”
McAllister said he was surprised by the number of properties that were auctioned Wednesday because from fall and into November, there was a “substantial” number of properties approved for sale. In December, 295 properties were approved for sale, and in February, his office announced that there were 233 tax-defaulted properties set to be sold. Between then and the time of the auction, property owners stepped up and paid the taxes, penalties and interest to keep their properties from auction.
“Redemption is there for those who pay. This is another good example of that,” McAllister said.