Have you ever heard that George Strait song “Ocean Front Property?”
The chorus goes like this:
“I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
From my front porch you can see the sea.
I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
If you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the golden gate in free.”
You’ve heard that old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” While that is generally true, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Recently Norfolk County announced the sale of two beach front properties in Long Point being offered for sale for the amount of outstanding taxes owing. 303 Hasting’s Drive, Long Point is offered for sale by public tender for a minimum of $5,323.40. Another vacant waterfront property along Hasting’s Drive is also being offered for sale for taxes owing in the amount of $7,172.59.
After three years of unpaid property taxes, a property may be entered into the tax sale process. A tax sale is the sale of one or more properties by a municipality, to recover unpaid property taxes on those properties. Tax sales are conducted either by public auction or by public tender.
Tax sale properties may sell for less than the market value of the property. This is because a municipality only needs to obtain the amount of taxes owing (including any accumulated interest and penalties), plus any costs involved in conducting the tax sale. The highest qualified tender is declared the successful purchaser.
After a tax deed has been registered, the former owner cannot redeem the property. However, before a tax deed is registered, the owner might be able to redeem the property by paying the cancellation price, thereby stopping the sale.
In an interview with The Simcoe Reformer, Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke “speculated that the high arrears on the vacant lots in Long Point may stem from the possibility that the land was abandoned 30 years ago after a devastating storm erased dozens of cottages from the shoreline. Soon after, Haldimand-Norfolk declared a hazard land designation on Hasting’s Drive and imposed a moratorium on new development.”
Vacant properties along Hasting’s Drive have been used by their owners as a “day at the beach” or as a boat launch to Lake Erie. More recently some Hasting’s Drive property owners are trying to make use of their properties by bringing in tents, trailers or motor homes. Norfolk County staff are not ordering the removal of recreational vehicles and trailers because they are not considered to be “structures.” Norfolk’s Manager of Development and Cultural Services, Chris Baird, notes “They still have wheels and license plates and can be moved out at any time.”
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