Bidders purchased 44 properties at Luzerne County’s main annual first-stage delinquent tax auction last week, paying a combined $430,284, according to a tally from county tax-claim operator Northeast Revenue Service LLC.
Paul Young, of PA Rehabs Inc. in Jim Thorpe, purchased the most properties — a dozen, records show.
His acquisitions include the highest single purchase price of the sale, which was $56,015 for a one-story residential structure on 57.8 acres on Park Street in Black Creek Township. The property is assessed at $219,000.
Known as an “upset sale,” the auction sets minimum bids at a dollar amount that covers all back real estate taxes, unpaid 2018 taxes and realty transfer tax. Buyers also must accept responsibility for any outstanding mortgages and liens.
The other properties purchased by Young were in Laflin, Hazleton, West Hazleton and in Foster, Hazle and Plains townships.
Bidder Thomas Mongold, of Chamber, Pennsylvania, bought three properties in Ross and Lehman townships, records show.
Antonio Mannino, of Puma Motors Inc. in Hanover Township, also purchased three properties — one in Salem Township and two in Wilkes-Barre. One of his acquisitions was a commercial warehouse on Blackman Street in Wilkes-Barre assessed at $55,000, which he bought for $28,518.
As predicted, hundreds paid delinquent real estate taxes in the days leading up to the auction so their properties would not be sold.
About a week before the sale, there were 1,480 parcels eligible for the sale.
A total 678 properties ended up on the auction roster, but 107 were continued to future sales due to court orders or bankruptcies, Northeast Revenue said.
Properties become eligible for auction if taxes have gone unpaid for two years.
To prevent auctioning, owners can pay the portion of taxes dating back two or more years, comply with a repayment plan, file for bankruptcy or convince a judge temporary removal is warranted.
Among the properties granted temporary reprieve by court order, records show:
• A 43,000-square-foot former factory at 447 New Grove St. in Wilkes-Barre owned by Future Horizons PA Ltd. that would have required a starting bid of $60,799.
The owner has argued that state law required the county to lower the assessment to $500, which is what Future Horizons paid to buy the property in 2013 from the county repository, a pool of land and structures that did not sell at past tax auctions. The county assessment appeals board had reduced the value to $225,000 in 2014 but declined a further reduction, records show.
• The Keystone Garden Estates assisted-living facility on Route 11 in Larksville, which had been set at a minimum bid of $298,240. The property is assessed at $2.4 million.
• A former grain processing mill on Miller Street in Wilkes-Barre owned by Rosati Arms LLC, which had been slated for a possible distillery. Bids were set to start at $76,378.
Advancing to next level
The 527 properties that did not sell will be listed in a more popular free-and-clear sale in 2019, when all liens and delinquent taxes are forgiven unless bidding competition drives up the purchase price to cover some or all of that debt.
Included in the list of upset auction properties with no takers last week, records show:
• A storefront/apartment building at 47 E. Northampton St., in Wilkes-Barre, owned by D&D Realty Group Scranton LLC.
• A commercial apartment structure at 103 George Ave., in Wilkes-Barre, owned by Paul Petroski Sr.
• The deteriorated former L.S. Bowl-A-Rama property on Washington Street in Nanticoke, which had been purchased by PS Capital Ventures Inc. of Hazleton from a previous tax sale in 2014.
• A mixed commercial/residential structure at 65 Oxford St., in Hanover Township, owned by Minersville LLC.
• A 3.39-acre commercial property at 3 Ferry Road, in Hanover Township, that is described as a former slaughter house in assessment records and is owned by Carlos and Krystyna Vargas.
• Two properties — a mixed commercial/residential structure and parking lot — at 918 Exeter Ave., in Exeter, owned by Susquehanna West Properties LLC.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.