Property tax auctions moving online

- An abandoned home on North Willow Avenue in Tampa may not be much to look at, but a few miles away at the Hillsborough Courthouse, there is bidding war for this white house, with green trim and boarded windows.

The auction looks and sounds the way you imagine. Bidders call out what they’re willing to pay, until that unnamed price is reached and the bidders fall quiet.

The family who owns this particular home stopped paying their property taxes. So now the deed is going to the highest bidder, but if they could have gotten the money together, they could have saved their home at the last minute – meaning they could have come face-to-face with a crowd hoping to get a great property for an even better deal.

“Sold for $112,100,” the auctioneer calls.

For this home, the sale moved forward, with the homeowner nowhere in sight. The winner, Andres Alzate pays 5 percent up front. Money changes hands seconds after he wins the auction.

“I’m excited, super excited! I love the house, love the area, and this is probably one of the biggest buys I've done for myself,” Alzate said.

Hillsborough Courthouse Tax Deeds Manager Teresa Clark has says, in her 17 years she’s seen bitterness boil over, sometimes almost ending in violence.

Clark says homeowners have until the last minute to pay their property taxes and keep their home off the auction block, which is exactly what happened before another home went before the crowd.

But this face-to-face drama is coming to end. Starting soon, auctions will be online.

Abraham Warren, who lost Friday’s bidding war, doesn't like the coming changes.

“Now we don't know who's bidding, where it’s much more fair and honest when it’s live,” said Warren.

But at least the last auction will go down as action-packed. The winners walk away with a home, and a lot of work ahead.

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