For more than 10 years, five parcels of land have sat idle as property of the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury, waiting to be useful again.
The beginning of the end of that wait may be at hand with an informational meeting on how to purchase “tax-adjudicated” real estate, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 24) at the LSU AgCenter on La. Hwy 1 in Mansura.
The parish has made no use of these tracts and no taxes have been paid to those government entities receiving property taxes for a decade. The Police Jury is making these parcels its first group to be sold because of the length of time since the original owners lost their possession rights.
Earlier this year the Police Jury decided to address the problem of returning “adjudicated property” to the tax rolls by selling them to interested buyers. Representatives of the Assessor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office Tax Division, District Attorney’s Office and Police Jury worked together to research possible options.
The result of that work was a recommendation to hire CivicSource, a New Orleans-based company specializing in online auctions for “tax-distressed real estate.”
In short, Civic Source researches the title and does all the “heavy lifting” to prepare to sell a property that was obtained by a government due to non-payment of taxes.
The Thursday meeting will explain the process to the public and describe the properties going up for auction.
The meeting is open to the public and free of charge. To RSVP, visit events.CivicSource. com. Registration is recommended but not required.
Police Juror Marsha Wiley is heading the jury’s efforts to return tax sale properties to the tax rolls.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Wiley said. “The parish gets rid of property that has just been sitting on the books for over 10 years and the buyer gets a piece of property with clear title. This means abandoned properties that have been maintained by the parish for years will be back on the tax rolls and no longer a burden on taxpayers,” she added.
Wiley said she is especially grateful to Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Gaspard, who has worked with adjudicated properties in the past and provided a wealth of legal expertise to ensure the parish was not stepping out on unstable legal ground.
She said CivicSource “does this for a living. They are doing this in other parishes across the state. They do all the legwork, contact all the heirs, etc., and makes sure there is clear title to the property so the buyer does not have to worry about the original owner coming back and reclaiming the property.”
CivicSource conducts adjudicated property auctions in 50 parishes and municipalities in the state, as well as many other out-of-state taxing authorities.
All properties in the auction will have gone unsold in a tax sale and not been redeemed by the original owners. CivicSource ensures all owners, heirs and interested persons affiliated with a tax-delinquent property have been properly notified and given ample opportunity to redeem the property before it qualifies for one of its adjudicated property auctions, a CivicSource spokesperson said.
The five parcels to be discussed are 716 Branch St. in Simmesport and four lots in or near Marksville — one on Boggy Bayou Road, one off Ferdinand Street, one near Deanna Drive and one on Brouillette Street.
$4,800 AVERAGE COST
The auction price for a piece of property begins at $0 plus closing costs. Closing costs vary, but CivicSource spokesperson Molly Richard said the average is $4,800. That includes all of the legal fees involved in obtaining clear title to the property. The past taxes on the property are not included in the closing costs, she said.
The final price of a property depends on the bidders. The Police Jury would receive anything in addition to the closing costs. For example, if closing costs were $4,800 and the high bid was $5,000, CivicSource would receive $4,800 and the parish would receive $200. If the high bid was $10,000, CivicSource would get $4,800 and the parish would get $5,200.
CivicSource’s payment is included in the closing costs. The company does not get paid a commission or percentage of the bid price.
For a property to be placed on the list for auction and for CivicSource to begin its research to prepare it for sale, an interested buyer must make an $850 deposit. That ensures there is at least one person bidding on the property.
If that bidder loses the auction, he gets his deposit back. If he wins, the deposit is applied to the final auction price. If he decides not to bid, he forfeits the deposit. Once a pool of interested buyers has been trained in CivicSource’s process, the technology-driven property auction will occur online at CivicSource.com.
Bidders will be able to research the properties and participate in the auction from anywhere with internet access.