CROWN POINT | The upcoming Lake County treasurer's tax sale has prompted a local business to offer its services to potential real estate speculators.
Signs appeared this week in Lake asking people to register their names at www.propertytaxsaleauction.com.
The website at that address advertises that an unnamed married couple in Lake County are offering to help people interested in buying tax-delinquent real estate.
Lake County Treasurer John Petalas said Friday he first noticed yards signs advertising the service this week.
He said the business appears to be legitimate. But Petalas said the public should know it isn't sponsored by county government, and his office will not help any of its customers in the event of fee disputes.
"I don't want people confusing them with some official service of county government. It's not affiliated with us," Petalas said.
The business didn't respond Friday afternoon to an e-mail request for information. There was no telephone listing on the website.
The website lists 17 sample tax sale properties with photographs of the buildings and descriptions including the assessed values of the properties. The site states listings are the result of lengthy research that can help buyers avoid bidding on land too small or inaccessible to be of practical value.
It offers it services for a $29.99 fee, the site states.
Petalas said the buyers can purchase any of the 9,000 tax sale properties on their own by using the website of SRI, an Indianapolis-based auction service, which will run the sale online Friday through Sept. 24. It is found at http://www.sri-taxsale.com/.
Petalas said he recommends potential buyers using the county's GIS site at http://lakein.mygisonline.com/, which provides descriptions of any property listed on the SRI website for auction — for free.
Dyer attorney Robert Golding said Friday he has represented a number of clients taking part in the tax sale, and he strongly recommends using the GIS site to avoid bidding blind on properties.
"I use it frequently and recommend it to everyone," Golding said.
* This story has been corrected from an earlier version.