Shelby County’s first online-only property tax sale was a success, county Trustee David Lenoir said, reeling in more bidders than previous tax sales with a higher percentage of properties going to buyers.
The sale ran Jan. 19-21 with 438 properties listed; 81 of them, or 18.5 percent, sold. That compares to previous sales where about 10 percent of properties sold, Lenoir said.
Unsold properties are purchased by the county and go into the Land Bank.
The number of bidders more than doubled, from 30 or 40 to about 100, Lenoir said. All but 18 of the 81 properties were purchased by investors within Shelby County.
The sales generated $1.2 million, with $630,000 going to cover unpaid county and city taxes and $580,000 in excess proceeds, which go to the prior owner or lien holder.
The county conducted two informational events before the sale, which helped generate interest, said Brian Danos, chief operating officer with CivicSource, the online sale vendor.
“We had gotten the word out very well and that’s why everybody understood what the online process was,” Danos said.
The county had several computer stations set up at the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Administration Building Downtown, but only about three or four people a day used them, Danos said. Most people bid from remote locations.
The sale officially ended at 8 p.m. Thursday, but sales continued as long as new bids were made every five minutes.
“It finally closed at 10:16 that night,” Danos said. “It was going back and forth that long. That’s the best part of the online sale, you can participate from home and it ensures that nobody is prevented from putting in their highest bid.”
Lenoir anticipates a few tweaks for the next tax sale in April, possibly staggering the bid process so that bidding doesn’t begin and end for all properties at the same time.
“Now that we’ve got one under our belt, what did we learn and how can we improve the process,” Lenoir said.