WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 16, 2010, 09:42 AM

Forfeited real estate sold at annual auction

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's not the typical way to buy a piece of property: sitting in a room with about 50 people, throwing bids out, hoping to get residential, commercial, or industrial land. Cass County held its annual sale of real estate on land with over-due property taxes and this year, there were triple the amount of properties because of a recent state law.

This was a new experience for first time property auction-goer Lee Bullis. A place he never thought he'd have to go, until an unimaginable day last month: he was one of the roughly 150 displaced by the South Fargo Galleria apartment fire.

LEE: "What we have from our insurance money, we're looking to hopefully get into a house pretty cheap without having to go through a realtor and then just remodel what has to be done to it."

He along with a few dozen homeowners, entrepreneurs and city representatives had their highest bid numbers in mind, all to cash in on a piece of 30 properties up for sale by Cass County. Like this first-timer’s monstrous take home: two properties for more than 100,000 dollars.

GALEN: "Do a little work to them, sell them. The value of them from the county was more than what I purchased them for so hopefully, like I said, hopefully it'll all work out!"

Others weren't as lucrative: a few sold for 100 dollars. The sale is held annually every third Tuesday in November. But this year, more than double the amount of properties were on the block because of a new property tax delinquency state law.

MICHAEL: "We hate to take any property, but most of the properties we end up taking are properties that for one reason or another are not, it's not economically feasible to retain the property."

It is a fast-paced sale to get some of these properties off the county's hands and into those of eager locals.

GALEN: "It is! I've never seen it before."

It took only about 35 minutes to finish the auction; totaling about 170-thousand dollars in sales. All the money goes to the county to pay for the unpaid taxes.