Thousands of properties taken over by the city because of unpaid taxes will be offered for sale at auction this summer, senior officials in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration said Monday.
The city intends to put more than 3,000 “tax-adjudicated” properties, mostly vacant lots, on the auction block beginning in July.
The properties will be those that previously went unsold in a tax sale and, as a result, became the property of the city. Only properties that have been in the city’s control for at least five years will be sold.
The process described Monday by Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin and Director of Finance Norman Foster will be unlike any previous tax sale in New Orleans, with the most notable difference being that winning bidders will be purchasing full legal ownership of properties, not just the liens against such sites.
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 order to gain full control.
The city will begin sending letters this week to the registered owners of properties that will be put up for sale, Foster told the City Council’s Budget Committee.
The earliest possible auction date will be the first week of July, to allow delinquent owners a final opportunity to pay off their debt and avoid losing a property at auction.
Interested buyers, however, will be able to view the properties expected to be available beginning March 6 at www. civicsource.com. The website will plot all the available properties on a map and provide detailed information about each site’s tax history.
When the website launches, those wishing to bid on a property can pay $650 to instruct the city to initiate presale legal research and to send required notification of a pending sale to the property owner. That amount will be returned to losing bidders and in cases where the property owner pays up before a sale occurs.
The minimum starting price for each bid is expected to be $3,000 to $4,000, Foster said, including the research fee, closing costs and the cost of title insurance, which will be guaranteed to the winning bidder through First American Title Insurance Co.
The auction program will be administered by Archon Information Systems, a contractor selected by the city after a request for proposals.
The idea of selling off tax-adjudicated properties has long been pushed by council members Stacy Head and LaToya Cantrell, both of whom praised the administration for finally creating a program to carry out the task.