CROWN POINT | Lake County's tax delinquent properties generated more than $21.6 million in bids from real estate speculators during the 2013 Lake County Treasurer's tax sale.
Treasurer John Petalas said the Internet-driven sale collected that from 1,360 parcels from among a total of 9,000 properties whose owners failed to pay overdue taxes and special assessments.
"That's the highest number of properties sold that we've ever done," Petalas said. This year's total was well more than last year's $17.8 million sale.
It also represents a bidding frenzy on a smaller amount of commercial sites. He said one property where the tax debt was $14,762 was sold at auction for more than $280,000, and a second property with an $81,000 tax debt sold for $541,000.
Petalas said the $21.6 million figure includes $4.7 million in taxes and late penalties county, municipal and township government officials can keep.
The remaining $16.8 million is the surplus value that will be paid either to the delinquent owners who lost their properties or back to the buyer with a small profit if the owner redeems the property by paying 10 percent of the successful bid.
Petalas credited the success of the online auction conducted by SRI, Indianapolis-based auctioneer, which received bids around the clock from people across the country.
Previously, the county conducted a time-consuming sale that required bidders to be present in the Lake County Government Complex auditorium for hours wading through documentation on thousands of long-vacant properties.