COLUMBIA, S.C. — Several hundred properties with overdue taxes did not sell at auctions this week in South Carolina's Richland and Lexington counties, surprising tax collectors who say it's rare for delinquent properties to go unsold.
"I'm astounded by the numbers this year," Gene Rishkofski said of Lexington County's 460 unsold properties, mostly parcels of land. "We've never had real estate in these large numbers that did not sell."
Last year, 101 properties did not sell, which means the increase is about 3 1/2 times the 2008 figure.
Richland County had about 530 properties that didn't attract bids at Monday's auction, Treasurer David Adams said. That's a 63 percent increase over 205 that weren't sold a year ago.
Agreeing with Rishkofski that much of the reason is the recession, Adams said, "We were a little surprised by that (increase)."
Most of the properties that did not sell at the auctions were parcels of land that were to be developed into subdivisions, the tax collectors said.
One veteran delinquent property investor said the reason for the trend is the same reason many homeowners lose money when they sell.
"The risk is the property may not be worth what you paid for it," said Jack Grindstaff, a retiree who has been bidding on properties for a decade. "People are just not willing to put up their money to take the risk."
In another indicator of the economy's impact on taxpayers, more people lost the title to their properties this year after a yearlong grace period for 2007 taxes.
Read the full story at thestate.com