Last updated: April 20. 2014 11:46PM - 3550 Views
By - jandes@civitasmedia.com

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Luzerne County’s tax claim operator is holding a special back-tax auction Thursday primarily for properties that have defaulted repayment plans.

In the past, payment plan defaulters would be off the hook until an annual first-stage “upset sale” was held in September, but tax claim operator Northeast Revenue Service LLC started holding special sales sooner to be more proactive about collection.

A total 245 properties were eligible for the upset sale, but the roster was down to 117 at the end of last week because the rest have paid their debt, Northeast Revenue representatives say.

Property owners have until the morning of the sale to pay. They also may seek court orders or file for bankruptcy in an attempt to remove their properties from the sale.

Upset sales are less popular because liens and back taxes are still attached to the properties, though properties with no outstanding mortgages may draw bidders.

As of last week, the upset list included:

• Two attached vacant commercial buildings — one including upper-floor apartments — next to the St. Conrad’s Society building on South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The buildings, which have a combined assessment of $273,800, are owned by Sarah Houck and Benjamin Moores. Bids will start around $24,000 for one property and $26,600 for the other to recoup taxes owed back to 2010.

• A hair salon and attached parking lot at 509 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, with bids starting at a combined $21,000. The properties are owned by Ann Donnini and have taxes dating back to 2009.

• Nine properties in Warrior Run owned by Selma Wootton that have taxes owed since 2009, including several vacant land parcels.

• A commercial building at 31 S. Prospect St., Nanticoke, owned by Pen-Pol Corp. LLC. Bids start at $5,780.

The sale also includes 42 judicial or “free-and-clear” properties that have been cleared of taxes, liens and mortgages because they didn’t sell at a first-stage sale.

Most bids start under $1,000 because buyers are required to pay only the expenses to sell the building, such as legal and advertising fees.

These properties had been removed from a previous judicial auction because Northeast Revenue wanted to ensure it exhausted all efforts to notify property owners so buyers don’t run into legal issues obtaining clean property titles.

The 42 properties include:

• A 1,466-square-foot, one-story home on 0.26 acres at 852 Coxton Road, Duryea. The home, owned by trustees for Timothy Ogilive, is assessed at $93,100 and had carried $8,300 in taxes dating back to 2010. Bids will start at $771.

• Both sections of a semi-detached home at 835 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Wilkes-Barre, owned by Walter Savage Jr. Bids start at $951 and $994 for the properties, which are assessed at $51,300 and $70,900.

• A commercial apartment building at 378-380 Carey Ave., Wilkes-Barre, owned by Matthew and Nicole Dewees. The property is assessed at $178,300, and bids start at $1,082.

Thursday’s sale starts at 10 a.m. in the courthouse. At least 25 bidders have registered to date. The list of properties and other information about the bidding process may be found on Northeast Revenue’s website, www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

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