So went the bids for 16 properties at a foreclosure auction Tuesday in Ottawa County, where a dozen bidders traded jabs, topping each other by $1, then $5, sometimes $50.
But these properties, mostly unbuildable parcels on Locust Point, averaged only about $600 each — $101 for the lowest sale and $4,000 for the highest.
The “in rem” proceeding, a special kind of foreclosure procedure, happens fairly rarely. It’s only the third such auction in the past 15 years in Ottawa County, prosecutor Mark Mulligan said.
Like any foreclosure process, the goal is the same: Resolve delinquent tax issues and make the properties more prosperous in the hands of new owners.
“They’re now in the hands of people who have an interest in them and will likely pay taxes on them,” Mulligan said. Ottawa County was owed $1,500 to $13,000 in back taxes on each of the small parcels in the auction, one of the reasons they fit into the rem proceeding, which required minimum bids of only $1. The other more popular home foreclosure proceedings usually require minimum sales to cover the money owed on each property.
Foreclosures as a whole in the Register’s coverage area have leveled out since the economic collapse in 2008, when the numbers were soaring, according to figures from area clerk of courts offices.
Total delinquent taxes in Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties, meanwhile, range from $4.4 million to $8.9 million, the least in Huron County and the most in Erie County.
Another $3.4 million in assessments — sidewalk replacements and paving, back water bills and the like — are owed on properties in Erie County, treasurer JoDee Fantozz said.
The Top 3 property owners in Erie County that owe money, mostly in assessments:
No. 1: Dan Joint Venture, condominiums in Vermilion with $815,000 due, mostly sewer assessments. The property is also under foreclosure.
No. 2: Westgate Development owes more than $200,000 on the property in taxes and assessments.
No. 3: Cold Creek Development carries a balance of $242,000 due. At any given time, about 7 percent of property owners are delinquent on their taxes in Erie County, Fantozz said. About 8.3 percent of Erie
County property owners are currently delinquent.