May 6th, 2016
By Kim Chatelain, NOLA.COM The Times-Picayune
May 06,2016 at 11:52 AM
More than 1,000 tax-adjudicated properties in St. Tammany Parish might end up on the block as the local government embarks on an online auction program, the first of its kind in the parish. An initial inventory of 129 properties is now listed online through CivicSource, a leading auctioneer of tax-distressed real estate.
The goals of the auction are to put adjudicated properties back into commerce, reduce blight, offer property ownership to St. Tammany residents and give original property owners a chance to settle their outstanding tax bills and redeem their properties, the parish government said. About 1,300 properties are currently being evaluated for future auctions or redemption.
Parish President Pat Brister said anyone interested in owning property in St. Tammany is encouraged to browse the online property inventory and take advantage of a unique opportunity. The government will also benefit from the auction, she said.
“By placing these properties back into commerce, there will be an estimated economic impact of $275,000 per year, based on their assessment in the current state. With improvements, this amount will eventually increase,” Brister said. “In addition, property owners who live next door to properties already in the auction inventory and who meet certain legal requirements could … purchase that property for $1 plus closing costs. This is a great opportunity to increase their own property values, strengthen their neighborhoods and play an essential role in blight reduction.”
Kelly Rabalais, director of the parish government’s Legal Department, said that through the online auction process, the legal legwork to vet each property is part of the purchase price of each parcel.
“Parish government will have no out-of-pocket expenses, only net return,” Rabalais, said. “In addition, the fact that anyone, from the convenience of their own home, can participate in the auction increases the exposure to the sale and increases the opportunity for investment in St. Tammany Parish.”
Interested buyers may visit www.civicsource.com to view a map, a list or a street view of the initial auction inventory of 129 adjudicated properties and register to participate in the auction. Registered users may then nominate properties that will initiate the auction process through a $750 deposit and place the nominated property into an active auction.
With CivicSource as the auction facilitator, the final sale price of each property includes a clear title, title insurance and closing fees, the government said. The initial $750 deposit will go toward the sale price of the winning bid. If a person placing the deposit is outbid, the deposit will be returned to the losing bidder, parish officials said.
Complete details about the online auction process are available atwww.civicsource.com/help. Interested buyers may call 888.387.8033 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to speak with a representative from CivicSource and have their questions answered.
The first adjudicated property sale by the parish government was held in 2013. It was a conventional auction conducted by an auctioneer and resulted in the sale of 81 properties for $394,400, officials said. That auction also resulted in the redemption of eight properties by the original owners who settled their outstanding tax bills with the parish.