Monday, June 23, 2014

Times: Selling No Man's Land at Tax Sales a Losing Game

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

The Lake County treasurer's office is preparing its 2014 parade of neglect.
Buyers soon will be able to bid on acres of gutted buildings and the overgrown foundations of once-thriving neighborhoods from a list of at least 14,000 tax-delinquent properties, whose owners abandoned them to fate long ago.
County Treasurer John Petalas said sometimes the naive may buy them, sight unseen. Tax sale veterans usually give wide berth, forcing him and county commissioners into the expense of recycling them for sale, year after year.
"They should pass a law that takes abandoned properties off the tax rolls and gives them to the cities, so they can do something it and get it off my tax sale," he said.
State Rep. Edward Clere, a Republican from downstate New Albany, would like nothing better than to pass such a law, something he has been trying to do for some time.
"This is an example of a problem that a well-designed land bank would address. The idea involves wiping off the back taxes and starting with a clean slate, so properties like this aren't so upside down," Clere said.
State law now only permits county government to aggregate abandoned properties this way, but Clere said the county officials are more interested in chasing the mirage of collecting the back taxes through resale than writing them off to a land bank.
Clere said a land bank "could transfer the property to a private or public developer to fulfill certain requirements to rehab the existing buildings or build new houses and get these properties back on the tax rolls and occupied within 18 months."