|Updated: 6/12/2012 10:25 am
||Published: 6/11/2012 5:59 pm
Close to 500 commercial and residential properties in Tulsa County were on the auction block starting Monday. The county is selling any property over which property taxes from 2008 remain unpaid.
State law requires all Oklahoma counties to hold such auctions on the second Monday in June each year for any property over which taxes are three and a half years delinquent.
"You can find the best deals here," Tim Crowley, owner of TMC Property Acquisitions, said. "And then throughout the year you just, you know, you're hustling hard trying to find other properties that you hope you can make a buck on."
Crowley makes a living flipping houses, and had already bought a house for $78,000 Monday morning. He planned to invest another $15,000 to $20,000 in improvements to the home.
"It's a property that's in pretty decent shape," he said. "So, I think I'm going to be able to do ok on it."
The current owner of the house lost his job, and was unable to get back on his feet and pay the outstanding tax bill.
"He's a nice guy," Crowley said. "But, you know, he's just come against hard times, and it's tough sometimes."
While Tulsa has fared better than most cities during the recession, this auction was proof that it has taken its toll here, too.
"In years past I was typically going to auction with 150 to 200 properties," Dennis Semler, Tulsa County Treasurer, said. "And now, when it all shakes out, I'm at auction with about 500 properties."
But the County, and everyone who lives in it, need that tax money.
"The health department, to fund the Tulsa Technology Center, to fund the library, to fund the county government, itself," Semler said.
Properties of all shapes, sizes and conditions are expected to bring in between $1.2 million and $2 million.
"Most of these funds go for public education," Semler said.
"I know that some teacher contracts, I'm certain, will be renewed as a result of this auction."
"I wasn't expecting this many people," Crowley said. "This is a lot more than I thought."
He's glad so many people came out to do their part and get the properties back on the tax rolls.
"I'm going to be bidding on about five or six properties," Crowley said. "So, I hope I get all of them."
The county only takes as much from each sale as it's owed in taxes on the property. The difference between the winning bid and the outstanding tax debt is then paid back to the original property owner.
The auction is expected to continue for several days until buyers get a chance to bid on every property on the list. Tulsa County will then take ownership of any properties that don't sell. The county then makes arrangements to sell to private bidders.