First Online Foreclosed Property Auction a Success, Though Prevention Remains Treasurer’s Top Goal
(Jason Theodoroff, March 6, 2023)
Pontiac, MI – In 2022, Oakland County took the task of selling tax foreclosed properties to a new level by hosting an online auction, rather than an in-person event.
Oakland County Treasurer Robert Wittenberg answered some questions about the auction, and how it turned out.
“The county wanted to make the auction more accessible for everyone anywhere they may be, the facility that the county had used previously was no under ownership of a different party and wouldn’t be able to be used for the auction. The auctioneer that the county had used in the past was also unavailable”, Wittenberg shared.
“For those reasons we decided it was better to do the auction online and we were really happy with the outcome”, he added.
The virtual land sale achieved total sales of $6,697,991 versus $4,788,466 from the 2019 in-person land sale. No land sales were held in 2020 or 2021 due to a foreclosure moratorium.
While the selling of foreclosed properties does bring revenue in to the County, Wittenberg’s goal is to work with property owners to prevent foreclosure in the first place. The Treasurer’s Office makes several attempts to contact owners, and they can set up payment plans.
“The auction is kind of the last step in the foreclosure process. It’s roughly a 3-year cycle, but our goal is not to foreclose on anybody, foreclosure is the last resort. Foreclosure can impact the homeowner, the neighbor, and the community – so we want to always do everything we can to help the property owner.”
Often the properties that go to auction aren’t homes, but vacant land.
“We had 374 parcels that went to the auction and well over 85% were vacant. There were 781 bidders and 1,072 bids placed. 319 of the 374 parcels were sold,” he said.
The deadline to pay 2020 and prior years taxes is approaching, with a deadline of March 31. Information on preventing foreclosure can be found at https://www.oakgov.com/treasurer/property-taxes/Pages/prevent-tax-foreclosure.aspx