A quiet buzz filled the Grand Hall at the Decatur Civic Center Thursday morning, rising from about 50 people scattered through two sections of chairs.
After signing in at a table down front, they got a little paddle with a number on it, took seats and pored over a list of properties that were about to go on sale.
It was auction time.
The Wise County Appraisal District and the Wise County Tax Office put 94 tracts of property on sale at 8:30 a.m. The parcels, ranging from mobile home lots to 2-plus acres, were forfeited to taxing entities because of unpaid taxes.
The properties in Thursday’s auction have been in sheriff’s sales before and did not sell. The county, school districts and cities agreed to a lower price to get them back in private hands and on the tax roll.
Thursday, 42 of them sold to 26 different buyers, at prices ranging from $50 to $15,000.
The auction brought in a total of $93,700, which goes into the law firm’s trust account, to be split among the taxing entities, lawyers and other agencies. Every bidder had to pay $5 to register, and those who bought properties paid another $38 on each parcel for the deed to be recorded.
Glen Smith, tax collection attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, conducted the auction along with Mickey Hand, chief appraiser at the Wise County Appraisal District.
Hand said he thought the auction – the first in Wise County in several years – went well.
“I thought we had a good turnout,” he said. “We are happy to get these properties back on the tax rolls and producing revenue for our taxing entities.
“Of course we would like to have sold them all,” he added. “We will make a few changes the next time we do this, to improve the process.”
Smith explained that buyers would get a deed without warranty. By law, if the property is a homestead or agricultural, the previous owner has two years after the original sale to “redeem” it by paying the bid price.
Most, but not all, of the properties in Thursday’s sale were past that point. Smith still urged caution.
“Don’t go out and build a house on this property next week,” he said. “Be sure the redemption time has expired, and that you get your own title policy.”
He also noted that the Northwest and Paradise school districts had not yet passed the resolution to sell property, and that he had forgotten to send one to the City of Alvord.
“In those entities, you’re going to be bidding subject to us going back to them and getting approval on the bid,” he said. Only 11 properties were affected, he said.
Once the bidding started, Smith and Hand took turns spotting bidders.
The second parcel that sold was the highest-priced, 2.3 acres in Boyd ISD that went for $15,000. The least expensive, a lot in Satellite City in Decatur ISD, sold for the minimum bid of $50.
A 1.5-acre tract in Poolville ISD sold for $7,800 after two bidders bumped each other up in $100 and $200 increments from the $2,000 minimum bid.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to work!” Hand said.
Some obviously came with a specific property in mind, settling up and leaving as soon as they made their purchase. Others bid on several properties.
“We’ll hold it a couple of years and try to sell it,” one bidder said. “Some of these bidders are neighbors, some are trying to fix access problems – and this family behind me, they bought it to fix it up and live in it.
“They’ll start today, I bet.”
Two bidders bought four properties, two bought three, six bought two and 16 others just bought one.
The 52 properties that did not sell will be go back to the entities.