Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No properties sold at Decatur’s tax sale

Decatur conducted a tax sale yesterday for delinquent property taxes owed for 2013 and prior tax years. By the time of sale at 10:00 a.m., the only properties left were seven land lots of various size, quality, and accessibility. No buildings or homes—either occupied or vacant—were put up for auction. The number of delinquent properties by the time of our sale was consistent with the number auctioned over the past couple years.

Four potential bidders attended the sale at City Hall, but made no bids, meaning that the taxes for these lots are still owed and there will be no change of ownership at this time. Generally, buyers don’t want tiny land lots that cannot be easily built on (although neighboring property owners are sometimes interested). The minimum required bid is the amount required to pay off the back taxes and collection fees owed. If there had been any bids, the buyer would have had to pay the taxes, then we would have filed a tax deed on their behalf, and the original owner would have had a year to redeem the property from the tax sale buyer.

Contrary to popular belief, the seven properties do not automatically transfer to ownership by the City now. The properties remain on the tax rolls under the existing owners’ names, and the parcels can be included again in future county or city tax sales.

Though unpleasant, the deadline of a scheduled tax sale is the only thing that will ensure payment by certain property owners, so the tax sale is a crucial component in maintaining Decatur’s 99.9 percent real property tax collection rate.


  1. I'm still trying to understand how tax sales work. If the property isn't sold at the tax sale, is the "owner" still the owner of the property? If somebody were to buy the property, are they just paying the taxes owed or are they also paying for the cost of the house?

    1. Yes, the owner continues to be the titleholder until the redemption period has expired. In Georgia, the owner has a year to pay off the person who bid on the property for their costs plus a premium. But if the owner isn't able to redeem it, and the tax sale buyer does all the right paperwork after the redemption period expires, then the tax sale buyer becomes the title holder.