Franklin County Tax Collector Rick Watson

Five bidders buy most of the tax certificates

The online tax certificate sale went well last month, driving down the interest rate that delinquent taxpayers have to pay to redeem their property

It went especially well for five out-of-county investment groups, who bought up 90 percent of the tax certificates that were offered for sale.

Watson said 58 entities registered to bid in the online auction, with 20 bidders successful in securing at least one certificate, including seven local bidders.

He said the top five successful bidders won 90% of the certificates auctioned. 

The top bidder was Fig 20, LLC, an investment entity out of Tampa, which purchased $394,847 of the certificates, followed by Savvy FL, LLC, out of Boca Raton, which bought up $208,867 worth.

Pine Valley FL, LLC, out of Chicago, Illinois, purchased $179,957 worth, while ATCF II FL, LLC, out of Houston, Texas, bought $150,607 in tax certificates.

Luca 2, LLC, out of Sarasota, bought $122,216 in tax certificates.

Tax Collector Rick Watson said delinquent taxes were slightly less than in years past. As of May 26, approximately 4%, or about $1.17 million in taxes owed were unpaid, out of the county’s more than 16,000 real estate parcels with property taxes of slightly more than $29 million.

This means that taxes on about 5% of the parcels were unpaid, with 883 tax bills delinquent.

The online sale resulted in 89% of the delinquent parcels sold for a total of $1.09 million, at an average interest rate of 6.25%, Watson said. The remaining 98 tax certificates that were unsold now revert to Franklin County, and they remain eligible for sale.

“It’s usually property that is not as desirable. The investors want to get interest; they don’t care about getting property,” he said.

County certificates can be held for 22 months and a tax deed application can be filed. Additional notice is given the property owner and the property owner can redeem his property up to the time of the tax sale on the courthouse steps. 

Real estate property taxes for the prior year are due March 31 of the following year, with penalties and interest beginning on April 1. Unpaid property taxes as of April 30 are advertised in the local newspaper and auctioned online the last Saturday of May. 

“Online auctions open the bidding to more entities and the increased competition decreases the interest rate delinquent taxpayers have to pay to redeem their property,” Watson said.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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