Thursday, May 24, 2012
Parcels in danger of being sold
By SUE WATSON
The number of parcels of real property in jeopardy from the 2009 tax sale remains high, according to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas, who recently reported to the board of supervisors.
He said there were about 891 parcels that had not been redeemed by owners, with that number down to 837 unredeemed parcels after certified letters were sent out reminding owners they are in danger of losing their property.
Thomas said unredeemed parcels in the 2009 tax sale are about 100 to 150 more than the number unredeemed for the 2008 tax sale this time last year.
Some of the parcels are in bankruptcy and mortgage holders or lienholders will be notified next, he said.
Most buyers of property taxes are interested in the 1.5 percent monthly interest they can make (18 percent annually), not the property itself, he said. Thomas believes the main reason people default on their taxes is the economy. They don’t have the money to pay their taxes and get in arrears.
Buyers enjoy one of the best interest rates going, he said.
“There’s nothing paying that much interest anywhere, so that’s why there is never a shortage of buyers,” he said. “I appreciate the buyers, but I’m here for the landowner.”
By law his office sends one certified letter to the property owner. If the tax is not redeemed by the owner, the next step is to go back through 30 years in the courthouse records to look for any lienholders on the property.
The lienholder(s) is (are) notified next. A final judgement and award of a deed to the tax buyer is made after all efforts are exhausted to find the property owner and get them to redeem their taxes.
He said he often looks for relatives to notify in an effort to get the word out to the property owner that a deed to their property is about to be issued by the court to a buyer.
“We do go out and make personal calls and contact family and go from there to try to notify the owner,” he said. “It’s above our call of duty.”
Supervisors are also contacted to help the chancery clerk find people in their districts who are in danger of losing their property. Thomas also runs the unredeemed parcels in a notice in The South Reporter the last of June and the first of July each year.
“If you see the courthouse lights on late at night, we are doing a diligent search to make sure there are no other liens on a property,” Thomas said. “To do a 30-year search on 800 properties takes a while.”
Thomas said about four or five parcels a month have deeds issued to the buyer because the owner does not redeem his property. That comes to about 200-250 parcels a year, he said.
To inquire about how to redeem property that has been through the tax sale, call Thomas at the courthouse office number, 662-252-4431.
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