Friday, October 26, 2012

Tax foreclosure auction, 2012: What recovery?

I go to the county tax foreclosure auction every year, and I do so because I find that it's a pretty good place to purchase agricultural properties,  but I'll buy just about any kind of real estate if it appears to be a good value. 

One way to measure the current health of the local economy is to look at what sorts of properties are being auctioned off, what the value of the property is, and how many properties there are in the sale. 

In 2008, there were 47 properties in the sale.  I ended up purchasing a 9 acre parcel that I use for seasonal grazing of cattle, and a couple of building lots.  None of the properties in this auction were what I would consider "prime" real estate -- every parcel had some issue or other that made it less valuable. 

In 2009 I purchased a couple of improved building lots (electricity, water) and the quality offered had improved.  There were 54 properties in the sale. 

In 2010 I purchased a 3br 2ba townhouse that was 6 years old for $101k; that was the most expensive property at the auction that year, but the quality was again better.  There were 65 properties at the sale. 

I didn't attend the 2011 auction

The 2012 tax foreclosure auction has 345 properties. 

Unlike banks, the county sells the properties when they get to a particular point -- regardless of the state of the economy or the real estate market in general.  So unlike banks, who can keep a property off the market for years, the county auction is a pretty honest reflection of how the real estate market, and generally, the local economy, is faring. 

There are million dollar houses being auctioned.  There's a 50 room commercial hotel in lynnwood.  There's over 100 building lots.  It's not a single group of people, this is as widespread a sale as I've ever seen.

Over the next 6 weeks, properties will be removed from the list, but I think it's safe to say that this tax sale will be the largest that has happened in this county for at least 10 years. 

No matter what the media or the government says about the economy, by this indicator, we are farther in a hole than we have ever been in my lifetime. 


Alaska Bound said...

There are definetly pockets where there remains a saturation of foreclosures. In West Mi that saturation has been absorbed and prices are rising suprisingly fast. Here in Alaska we are seeing steady values and quick sales with a low volume of properties on the market. A very small (normal) percentage of distressed sale properties. Definetly not the same story nationwide.

Bruce King said...

Seattle is doing very well right now, but that's one of the few places in this state that is. Snohomish county, as far as real-estate values go and general economic activity, is not doing nearly as well.

JAG in the Box said...

Properties go to tax foreclosure in Washington when they are three years in arrears on property tax. And, the Government ALWAYS sits first on title... I too am looking forward to the tax foreclosure auctions this year. After our discussion, I started researching the King county list... :-)