Tax lien numbers down, values up in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com
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Tax lien numbers down, values up in Routt County

As many as 300 properties could be up for bid Nov. 4; officials confident about collecting past-due bills

If you go

What: Tax lien auction

When: Auction begins promptly at 8 a.m. Nov. 4. Bidders are urged to arrive by 7:30 a.m. to register.

Where: Commissioners Hearing Room at the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs

Other: Expect to be among 30 to 50 bidders. Be prepared to return by 1 p.m. with a bank check or money order for the amount of the tax liens purchased.

Steamboat Springs — Routt County officials will be intent on recovering about $1.3 million in delinquent 2009 taxes Nov. 4 when they prepare to auction off as many as 300 properties for the amount of the taxes. — Routt County officials will be intent on recovering about $1.3 million in delinquent 2009 taxes Nov. 4 when they prepare to auction off as many as 300 properties for the amount of the taxes.

— Routt County officials will be intent on recovering about $1.3 million in delinquent 2009 taxes Nov. 4 when they prepare to auction off as many as 300 properties for the amount of the taxes.

Despite the rough economy, officials at the Treasurer’s Office are confident the overdue 2009 property tax bills won’t dent the county coffers. That’s because investors are eager to take a calculated gamble on the properties encumbered by tax liens.

“It’s real high,” Chief Deputy Treasurer and Public Trustee Lila Stucker said about the county’s success rate in making good on delinquent taxes. “Our collections are (typically) 99.96 percent.”



The number of properties with past-due tax bills is down this year from 850 last year (on 2008 taxes) to 594 this year, Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon said. Already, about half of the delinquent 594 accounts have been paid off.

Tax bills for the preceding year are sent out in January and are due in full by June 15. However, the state of the economy and the fact that it’s affecting people with a range of incomes may be reflected in the value of properties whose owners are late in paying their bills this year.



“Yes, despite the lower numbers (of properties), value is higher,” Whiddon said.

Stucker explained that the list of delinquent property taxes published three times in the Sunday Steamboat Pilot & Today this month is different from what many readers may perceive it to be. Some savvy property owners put off paying their tax bill because they know the consequences are not as painful as falling behind on other bills.

“A lot of people put us off,” Stucker said. “We don’t report to the credit agencies. I get calls asking, ‘What’s the absolute latest deadline?’ They’re not really in financial issues but may be in the midst of restructuring a loan.”

The absolute deadline for paying taxes before they go to the Nov. 4 auction is 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Stucker said. And she expects some property owners to pay their bills before then. The developers of Barn Village at Steamboat owe taxes on 57 undeveloped lots with amounts ranging from about $1,670 to $3,300.

“They’ve already called to say they’re paying,” Stucker said.

Bidders at the auction can compete to potentially acquire the encumbered property for the face value of the property taxes, but realistically, they aren’t going to acquire a half-million-dollar home for $3,000 or less in overdue taxes.

A longtime Steamboat bidder at the tax lien auction, who asked to have her name withheld, said she’s not in it to acquire properties, but to collect the 10 percent interest.

“It’s extremely rare that anybody actually goes to deed,” she said.

Whiddon said people whose property is sold at the tax lien auction have three years to pay off the tax bill with interest (one year for mobile-home owners). If they haven’t settled up after 36 months, the buyer of the tax lien can claim the property.

The key to successful bidding, the Steamboat investor said, is keeping an eye on any competitive bidding process. During the auction, Whiddon ups the cost of the tax lien by a premium with each bid, and with it, the exposure to risk for the successful bidder.

The ultimate buyer is guaranteed the first month’s interest payment, but if the buyer comes in after two or three months, for example, and pays the overdue taxes and interest, the owner of the lien could end up holding the bag for the value of the premiums.

Savvy bidders target the properties they are interested in and do the math in advance to figure out how many months of interest payments they’d need to cover premiums, then set their limit.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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