The first batch of nearly 1,800 properties taken over by the city for unpaid taxes will be offered for purchase in an online auction next week, New Orleans officials said Thursday.
About 90 “tax-adjudicated” properties, mostly vacant lots in neighborhoods across the city, will hit the virtual auction block Wednesday for a 12-hour period beginning at 8 a.m. Winning bidders will receive full legal ownership of properties, not just liens against the sites.
The properties up for sale previously went unsold in a tax sale and, as a result, have been in the city’s control for at least five years.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in a statement, said the auction will “help to spur new development and strengthen communities.”
Landrieu’s administration announced the initiative in February, describing it as the largest auction of its kind in the city’s history and an innovative way to return hundreds of properties to commerce by eliminating the risk to potential buyers that comes with making purchases at tax sales.
At the conclusion of a typical tax sale, a buyer does not actually own a property and must initiate foreclosure proceedings against the property owner, who can fight such action. In the upcoming auction, former owners will forfeit all rights to the property, and winning bidders will get a free and clear title.
The city has made nearly 1,800 properties, about 90 percent of them vacant lots, available for auction. More than 80 percent of the properties have been under the city’s control for more than 10 years, Landrieu’s office said.
The administration had initially hoped to sell about 3,000 properties, but almost half the lots had to be pulled at the last minute because of issues with property records.
Next week’s auction, which will take place at civicsource.com, includes a portion of the 639 properties that have received bids so far.
Additional properties will be put up for sale after they are fully researched and their registered owners are notified and given an opportunity to pay outstanding fees and taxes. Since the auction process began, the city has collected more than $857,000 in taxes and fees from 32 delinquent property owners.
The auctions are expected to take place on a monthly basis.