COLUMBIANA COUNTY Landing a deal at auditor's sales

Property that's put on the auction block has been seized because taxes weren't being paid on it.
LISBON -- Anyone interested in cheap property might want to watch for the periodic sales held by the Columbiana County Auditor's office.
Vacant residential lots can be had at the events at bargain-basement prices as low as $5, which is the starting bid at the auctions, Auditor Nancy Milliken explained Thursday.
The auditor's office had nearly 60 parcels available at such a sale Thursday; some sold for the $5 bid-opening price.
Milliken noted, however, that the rock-bottom price is the exception rather than the rule.
The average sale price is about $800.
Thursday's sale was the third held by the auditor's office since August, when they were re-instituted.
Temporary halt: The sales were discontinued in October 1999 because a county financial crunch left no money to pay for advertising the sales and the necessary legal work associated with the events, Milliken explained.
Property in the auditor's sale is made up primarily of vacant residential parcels seized by the county because delinquent property taxes have piled up.
The seized property first goes through a sheriff's sale, where the minimum opening bid is the amount of the back taxes owed.
If a parcel can't be sold at the sheriff's sale, the back taxes owed on it are erased and it's handed over to the auditor's office for its sale, where bidding starts at $5.
Most of the proceeds for the auditor's sale go to the entity in which the property is located, either a municipality or township, Milliken explained.
Public interest: "We're getting large crowds and lots of interest" because of the prospect of cheap property, she added.
Buyers are frequently people who live on the lot next to the property being sold and want the land to expand.
Any property not sold at one auditor's sale will be put up for sale at the next one.

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