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County auctions forgotten property

Island County’s first-of-its-kind auction of long-forgotten properties is taking place on Thursday, June 30.

The 10 parcel on the auction block have been languishing in a legal No Man’s Land since they were foreclosed on by the county for lack of payment and nobody bid on them at auction. Without a bid, the ownership technically reverted to the plethora of taxing districts that once collected taxes on the parcels.

But really, they were just ignored. One of the properties has been sitting in limbo since 1984.

But now the lonely parcels may finally get owners. Island County Treasurer Ana Maria Nunez said the responsibility for the abandoned property recently moved to her office from the county general services administration, which didn’t have the tools to deal with them.

Jill Smith, the tax foreclosure deputy, went to work. She said it took a lot of research to identify the parcels, then to winnow them down to those that may actually have value to someone. The resulting list of properties have been placed on the auction block. Some are small parcels, others just strips of land.

“If they get sold, they will start generating taxes again,” Nunez said.

Smith advised people to do their research of the properties before coming to the auction. Obvious questions are whether a parcel is buildable, if it perks and if it has water.

Smith said she sent letters to adjacent property owners to notify them of the auction. She said one man she contacted thought he already owned a small strip next to his land.

All the properties are unimproved parcels and have assessed values anywhere from $20 to $11,050. The minimum bids are set at assessed value for those under $500 and at 34 percent of assessed value for everything else.

The auction will take place at 4 p.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room in Coupeville. Only cash, check or money order will be accepted. Payment in full must be made immediately following the bid.

For more information about the parcels, visit the Island County Treasurer’s website at www.islandcounty.net/treasurer and click on “Tax Title Sales.”

If any of the properties don’t sell Thursday, Nunez said she’ll just place them in next year’s foreclosure auction.

 

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