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Opening bid

Roughly half of available properties sell at judicial tax sale

Times Observer photos by Josh Cotton County Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt, left, was the auctioneer for the judicial sale held Friday at the Main Courtroom fo the Warren County Courthouse.

Just over half of the properties brought to Friday’s judicial tax sale — 21 out of 40 — sold.

The sale generated approximately $57,000.

Tax claim director Phil Gilbert said the sale rate was “pretty good” and said a file they prepare and post online for free with detailed descriptions and pictures of the properties “makes a huge difference” in making people aware.

The properties that didn’t sell now go into the county’s repository. Gilbert said it’ll be a few months before those properties are available for sale but noted that the bid prices then will be the same as the starting bid price on Friday.

The opening bid price, Gilbert said, encompasses the cost to the county and the deed recording fee.

Everyone in attendance at the judicial sale on Friday was required to sign this COVID-19-related waiver.

Any funds generated from the sale above that bid price, he said, have a “pecking order” for how they are allocated.

Thursday was the deadline to avoid having a property go into the sale and County Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt said that the properties sold Friday were “free and clear” of all liens, judgment and mortgages.

Gilbert noted that doesn’t necessarily include IRS liens and said that three properties – two of which sold – were hit with liens between December and this week. Those issues were a Pa. Department of Revenue lien, a possible inheritance tax and a presumed sewer lien.

With the number of people attending the sale beyond the capacity of the limited, social distancing capacity of the Main Courtroom, everyone attending was required to sign a waiver.

The waiver noted, among other things, that masks are required and that the county is still “under its own emergency declaration.”

“(T) he Courthouse cannot guarantee that you will not become sick with COVID-19,” the waiver, which included hold harmless language, stated. “Further, attending the 2020 Judicial Tax Sale could increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.”

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