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157 properties with overdue taxes auctioned

June 30, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Treasurer's Office auctioned 157 properties with overdue taxes during a real estate sale Tuesday in Hagerstown.

About 70 people attended the sale, which was held behind the Washington County Office Building at 35 W. Washington St.

The treasurer's office said it wouldn't have a total on the amount bid until later this week.

The minimum bid on each property was the amount of overdue taxes plus interest and penalties, Washington County Treasurer Todd Hershey said.

In most of the cases, the bidders spent well above the minimum.

Hagerstown resident Omar Gustavo DeOliveira bid $220,000 on a property at 10933 Sasha Blvd. in Black Rock Estates, according to the Treasurer's Office. That property's minimum bid was set at $2,134.81.

Dave Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council, an organization that helps the impoverished become self-sufficient, said he was at the auction to bid on a property at 339 W. Antietam St. in Hagerstown.

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"We couldn't afford it at the market price, so we tried to pick it up at auction," Jordan said.

The Community Action Council needs to relocate because its current building at 101 Summit Ave. is too small, Jordan said.

Samy Gupta of Gambrills, Md., said he spent about $54,000 Tuesday on several properties.

He will have the right to foreclose on the properties if the owners don't settle their debt within six months.

Gupta said he went into the auction without knowing anything about the properties on which he placed bids. In his 18 years of participating in real estate auctions, Gupta said he figures 98 percent of the owners pay their taxes before the six months run out.

If that happens, Gupta makes money because he is refunded the amount of the minimum bid on the property plus 6 percent interest, paid by the owner who redeems the property, he said.

"I'm looking for the one property I can foreclose on," Gupta said. "I'm just here to make money."

Gupta said he often fixes up and rents the properties that he claims through foreclosure.

Some of the bidders complained when auctioneer Robert Mullendore proceeded with the bidding in increments of $5,000 instead of $1,000. They also said Mullendore was moving too fast.

Mullendore joked that he was working on commission.

He called the bidders "rookies," saying they wouldn't be able to keep up at a livestock auction.

"This isn't livestock," a man in the audience responded. "This is our money."

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