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Online tax lien sale garners $864,000

Employing a new online method, the Archuleta County Treasurer’s Office held the annual tax lien sale Thursday, Nov. 5.

Treasurer Betty Diller said 868 liens were available for sale and estimated that around 550 sold, allowing collection of $864,000 between Thursday’s online auction and Friday’s in-office sales.

Using the Web for the first time, the auction was held through Realauction.com, a company Diller says is “probably the top online auction company in the country” for tax liens.

Using the site allowed the county to tap into a database of more than 11,000 investors as well as incorporating local investors, she said.

“We were able to reach out to a lot of people and get them interested in Archuleta County,” she said, adding that there were several brand new investors taking part in the auction.

While many new investors took part, Diller wanted more.

“We had hoped for a little bit more collection, but it seems that compared to other counties, we held our own,” she said.

Still, Diller was pleased with the Web site’s format.

“One of the greatest things about this was that they (investors) were able to place their bids, make their deposits and organize their plans for investing, all from their home. Then, when it came the day of the auction, everything was taken care of,” she said, noting that investors didn’t have to be at their computer at the time of the auction.

Prior to the auction, investors were able to enter information on the auction Web site indicating if they wanted to pay zero-premium bids (face value of the lien), or enter a higher premium bid.

The face value of the bid is determined by the tax charge plus any interest and fees applicable at the time of the lien, Diller said.

When purchasing liens, investors pay the tax money due to the county then, when the property owner pays the taxes due to the treasurer’s office (with interest) the investor is paid back..

Diller said the main reason investors buy tax liens is for the interest income, an amount that is set by the state annually on Sept. 1 and that serves for the life of the lien. The interest for 2008 liens is 10 percent. The rate for 2007 liens is 11 percent.

After purchase, investors are able to endorse the liens yearly for up to three years by paying the taxes in order to keep their position with the lien, Diller said

Liens can be held for up to three years, at which point, if not paid, and with due diligence by the treasurer’s office to keep the property with the owner, the investor can apply for a Treasurer’s Deed and take title to the property. Diller said only about 3 percent of liens go to Treasurer’s Deed.

Unsold liens are still available at the treasurer’s Office on a first-come, first-served basis and the office is considering another online auction for County-held liens (unsold 2008 liens and 2007 liens that didn’t go to sale in 2008) the first week of December, she said.

Diller said her office is also working to develop information concerning the liens for the Archuleta County Web site and to e-mail to current investors.

Those with questions about the tax lien process or who are interested in investing are encouraged to call the treasurer’s office at 264-8325.

randi@pagosasun.com