ALBANY – Investors looking on Tuesday to buy some real estate who had a little extra cash and a year to wait on acquiring their new buildings and land were able to make purchases at a county sale of properties whose owners were delinquent on taxes.

Prices at the annual sale started at the amount owed in back county property taxes, followed by a bidding process in which the person who offered the most money got rights to the property.

Bids were taken in two sessions at the Dougherty County Courthouse steps, one at 10 a.m. and a second at 2 p.m. for properties that were not sold during the morning.

“I was trying to get me a home,” Eva Smith told The Herald after the morning session.

Her brother, Willie Wallace, a city of Albany employee for 28 years, saw the bidding grow too steep for a house he had his eyes on.

“I couldn’t buy that,” he said. “It went from $900 to $110,000 that last bid. I thought we were just buying a house for property taxes (owed).”

In all, 73 properties were put up for sale, according to Kim Baylis, Dougherty County’s tax collection supervisor.

The county advertises the properties and the delinquent taxes for four weeks in July. The sale is held the first Tuesday of August each year.

Most of the properties are those on which owners did not pay taxes due at the end of 2018.

Of the 14 that did not sell in the morning, buyers snatched up only a handful in the afternoon.

Current owners have a year and a day from the date of the sale in which to pay the taxes owed. They also must pay the person who purchased rights to the property on Tuesday an additional fee of 20% of that amount.

After two years, the redemption cost goes to taxes owed plus 30%.

“They (new owner) can’t go on the property or make improvements,” Baylis said.

Most people who make purchases go through the legal process at the end of the waiting period to gain full possession.

Without a title “they can’t buy insurance,” Bayliss said. In the event of a fire or other damage to the property, that means the purchaser would lose the value of the house or business property.

“After they file to bar right of redemption, they can start the foreclosure process,” Baylis said. “The (original) owner can still live on the property until the foreclosure process is completed.”

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