Harford County sold almost all of the 619 properties available during its annual tax lien sale Monday, county treasurer Kathryn Hewitt said.
The event involves selling tax liens for delinquent taxes owed on real estate. Buyers can connect interest on the unpaid taxes they pay to the county and also can institute foreclosure proceedings if the property owner doesn't repay them.
With 606 of the properties sold, Hewitt called the event more successful than last year's, in which about 30 properties went unsold. Only 433 properties, however, were made available in last year's sale.
Hewitt said the amount of properties in this year's sale was "higher than I have seen in the past four years I have been here."
She said the properties were scattered throughout the county and in the municipalities of Bel Air, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen.
"There were properties of all sizes, in terms of assessed value and in terms of taxes due," she said.
The total amount due in taxes was $1.008 million, slightly less than the $1.017 million due last year, Hewitt said.
Selling the properties brought in about $972,000, Hewitt said. The remaining properties had a combined $35,950 in outstanding tax liens. Last year, the county reported collecting $963,308.
The sale drew 56 bidders this year, 23 of whom were able to buy at least one property. The county again used RealAuctions.com to conduct the online sale, which started at 10 a.m. Monday.
Hewitt said the properties that went unsold had small assessment values and some were "specialized uses," although she could not give specific examples immediately.
"This was a very successful sale. We were very pleased with the amount we received and that there were only 13 properties unsold," she said.
With the sale of the tax liens, the property owner has four months to redeem the lien by repaying the amount of taxes due plus interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum, according to the legal notice for this year's sale.
If the owner does not redeem within four months, the purchaser of the tax lien can institute foreclosure proceedings in court to claim title to the property. The notice also stresses, however, that "the tax sale purchaser has no right of possession to the property until a deed is acquired."