Huntsville Real Estate Property Taxes

The 33-year-old New Market resident paid just $3,200 for three home lots auctioned off by the county to recover delinquent property taxes and fees.

“With land around here going for about $10,000 an acre nowadays, it’s definitely a great deal,” said Randolph, an agent with Rise Real Estate in Huntsville.

Randolph was among about 40 people who gathered outside the courthouse Friday for the county’s annual tax sale. More than 170 homes and vacant lots were up for grabs at bargain basement prices.

Many of the homes had been foreclosed on in the current mortgage crisis, according to Madison County Tax Collector Lynda Hall.

Most of the bidders were like Randolph: local folks hoping to get a property or two for a fraction of its true value. Out-of-town investors scooped up the most attractive homes by bidding up the price above what most auction participants could afford, and still came out with some steals.

For example, a home on Oakline Drive in west Huntsville’s Knox Creek subdivision had an opening bid of $596.63 – the amount of delinquent taxes – but sold for $15,000. Six other homes on that street checked by The Times have an average taxable value of $95,500, county tax records show.

Delinquent taxpayers have until Friday to reclaim their home or land by simply paying their overdue property taxes and fees (In that case, the auction buyer receives a refund).

Beginning next Saturday, owners must pay 12 percent annual interest to the auction buyer to get their property back. If the owner makes no effort to reclaim the property, the auction buyer becomes the legal owner after three years.

It’s almost a no-lose proposition for auction participants, who stand to gain either a hefty interest payment or a house at a cut-rate price.

Stephanie Connor, 70, of Huntsville, walked away from Friday’s auction with a house for $800. Because she didn’t do any research before the sale, she had no idea about the house’s condition or location. Still, at that price, she couldn’t resist.

“I had some extra money I don’t normally have and was looking for a good investment,” said Connor, who showed up well before the sale to stake out a position near the podium. “I do have an idea that this is a sound house. The roof should not be falling in, because code enforcement is so strict now.”

A retired real estate agent, Connor said she hopes to rent the house.

Hall conducted the auction outside her office on the north side of the courthouse. Her voice was occasionally drowned out by passing traffic and ringing church bells.

More than 600 parcels were due to be auctioned, but Hall said employees in her office tracked down most of the owners and settled their tax bills before the sale. Workers used Google Earth satellite images to see which tracts contained homes, then contacted mortgage companies.

“It was unusual in the fact that it took so much work to get (delinquent taxpayers) to pay,” Hall said. “We’ve contacted everybody by phone, by mail or in person, putting the notice on their door.”

The overdue property taxes are based on 2006 tax assessments that were supposed to be paid by Oct. 1, 2007. The taxes became delinquent after Jan. 1.

huntsville real estate tax sales

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