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CivicSource helping city-parish officials clear up property tax rolls

March 30th, 2016

 

New Orleans-based CivicSource will have on May 4 the first auction of properties that have been on East Baton Rouge Parish’s adjudicated rolls for more than five years.

Those 24 properties, along with 38 set for auction on June 1, represent a fraction of the 2,040 properties available on CivicSource’s website.

The company specializes in moving adjudicated properties and assists potential buyers with the required paperwork.

Originally, more than 2,100 EBR properties were up for sale when CivicSource first began marketing city-parish adjudicated properties Feb. 1, but that number has since dropped slightly.

William Aaron, special assistant parish attorney and head of adjudicated properties in the East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney’s Office, says the city-parish has seen a large uptick in property redemption—people who pay the back taxes owed for their property in order to take it off the adjudicated rolls—since the city-parish began using CivicSource.

Aaron says officials are also finding mistakes on the tax rolls. Some 30 properties were adjudicated that should not have been, he says. In some other instances, a property purchased by a church or nonprofit was not put on the exempt list.

“Whether we make a gillion million dollars or not, we’re cleaning up the rolls and getting people to pay their taxes,” Aaron says.

Kristen Lawrence, spokeswoman for New Orleans-based CivicSource, says investors have paid the $750 deposit on 194 properties in East Baton Rouge Parish since the service began.

If a potential buyer tries to purchase the property through the Parish Attorney’s Office, they are required to do all the legwork of finding past owners and notifying them about the impending sale. CivicSource does the due process work for the buyer and also offers title insurance. Title insurance protects the purchaser from unforeseen mortgages and liens, as well as legal attacks from a former landowner who was not notified of the property’s sale.

Once investors pay the deposit, it takes about 90 to 120 days before the property goes up for sale. Anyone—not just the person who paid the deposit—can bid on the property. If the person who paid the deposit is not the highest bidder, the company refunds their deposit and adds $750 to the total of the highest bidder.

The city-parish does not pay CivicSource a penny for the service, Aaron has said. The company sets the initial price of the property to cover its expenses and makes its money through closing costs. Any money generated above the initial price goes to the city-parish.

—Ryan Broussard