Took a pass on some cheap real estate

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Posted by w0ep on February 26, 2019 at 9:18 pm

[Yesterday’s run: 3.4 miles]

I think it was last November or early December when I was trolling through the Mississippi Secretary of State website looking at some of their tax-seized lands. I found one that looked pretty interesting.

So, in a mood of curiosity, I did some research on the rules for making an offer on it.

As I understand it, these are parcels which have slipped through the county tax system and didn’t get picked up by the county’s tax sale. The county tax sales are where an investor will pay the unpaid taxes. Then the owner will have to pay the investor plus interest to get the parcel back in clear condition.

If the county can’t get anyone to pay the taxes on a certain parcel, that parcel then becomes state property and is managed by the Secretary of States office. (I am not an expert on this, it is just what I have gathered.)

Then the Secretary of State has a procedure for taking applications on the property. At first they are required to try to get market price. But as time goes by that requirement goes down to where they want some fraction of the market price plus the owed taxes that have accrued. And eventually they are supposed to unload it for whatever they can get.

The application comes in, and the SoS office then gathers some information for 60-90 days and replies with “the price” they will take. And the person/company can pay that price and get a land patent for the property. Then they can go to court and prove that patent (see if anyone disputes it) which is supposed to settle the matter for all time.

So, I put in an application for this parcel that was not very far from us and had been in the SoS system for quite a long time. There is a home and a few acres of land. And after a few weeks we received “the price” from the SoS office and it was very reasonable. Let’s just say it was pretty much just the owed taxes, about the price of a garden-variety used car. (I was amazed. By a twist of fate I actually have that much in the bank. I could buy a house with cash! I was giddy for awhile.)

Like many of the strange things I do with internet auctions and such.. that put me in the dilemma of whether I actually wanted to own a few acres and a house in a very-rural part of Mississippi. Not only that, but I would have to chase off the people living in the house.

Today was the expiration day of the SoS offer and I called and told them I was going to pass.

If we were sure we were staying in Mississippi, I think we could have done it. I think we could have managed a soft landing for the delinquent tax payers and ended up with the property in a few years without a lot of fuss. But since we may be moving on soon, it was just a bit too much.

And that leaves the occupants at the mercy of the next wanna-be carpet-bagging robber barron that comes along. That’s kind of what they ask for by letting things slip for nearly a decade.

I was talking to my son about this and about my dilemma and why would someone put their home at risk to save a couple of hundred dollars a year (taxes are not high around here). His answer made more sense than any I could come up with. Maybe the older guy who owns the place just decided he wouldn’t be around much longer and shouldn’t have to pay. Maybe he just outlived his expectations.

And the system allows them to pay things off even at this late date! So the guy doesn’t think his house is worth that much, nor his children or neighbors (all have special front-of-the-line treatment in the rules of the system.) I have thought about letting them know that the price is getting pretty low.

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