The debut of online sales of tax certificates wasn’t without a few hiccoughs, but overall it went well, with results very much in keeping with trends demonstrated in the live auctions.
“I think it was successful and it was fairly straightforward and easy,” said Tax Collector Rick Watson, who became the first to hold that office to introduce the online sales, in keeping with how the overwhelming majority of Florida counties do theirs.
He said there was “a little wrinkle” on Friday, May 31, the final day of the month-long sale, when Mediacom was down, and some individuals had trouble bidding.
Overall, the numbers were similar to last year, when the county began by advertising for about $1.5 million in delinquent taxes for about 1,300 parcels and had that total whittled in half by the day of the live sale, during which the county sold off about 800 certificates worth about $768,000.
This year, the overall volume of tax certificates bucked, by a slight amount, the decade long trend, in which they have dropped mostly every year, down from a peak in 2009, when 1,791 certificates went for about $3 million.
This year, 869 tax certificates, worth a little more than $884,000 went on sale. About 90 percent of this total available amount, a little more than $801,000 was sold off in 741 certificates, with an average interest rate awarded of 11 percent.
The remaining 10 percent of the certificates were struck to the county, fewer than was the case last year. These too become available for private purchase following the sale.
Last year 75 individuals were assigned a bidding number at the live auction, and fewer than 50 participated, Watson said.
This year, 60 bidders registered for the online auction, but only 40 of these followed through by putting up a deposit of approximately 10 percent of what they intended to buy. Data regarding the sale showed that 29 of these individuals secured tax certificates.
As is quite often the case, a handful of individuals bought most of the certificates. Three investors each bought about $150,000 in tax certificates, while one bought about $70,000 worth, two each bought about $50,000, two bought about $30,000 each, and three each bought about $12,000.
“All told, we had 11 bidders that each bought more than $12,000 worth of certificates,” said Watson. “That’s pretty standard.”
He said that because some local bidders were uncomfortable with the process, some stayed away. “We had quite a few local bidders that bid,” Watson said. “I expect more local people will bid next year.”