ELKHART — Close to 50 people visited the Roosevelt Center this weekend to learn how to bid on houses in Elkhart County’s upcoming property tax sale.
People are sometimes surprised how many homes land a spot in the annual tax sale, said Jason Shenk, founder of the People’s History of Elkhart. As of Friday afternoon, there were close to 1,300 properties on the list for October’s auction, including a mix of residential, commercial and industrial parcels with unpaid taxes adding up to almost $8 million. Most of the properties on the list are in Elkhart and Goshen, and the rest are spread throughout the county.
“A big part of it has to do with how rough the economy has been,” Shenk explained.
Property owners have until noon Oct. 1 to catch up on taxes owed to the county. The tax sale will be the following day, Oct. 2, in room 104 at the Elkhart County Administration Building, 117 N. Second St., Goshen.
The highest bidder on each property receives a tax sale certificate. The original property owners have one year after the tax sale to redeem the property. If no back taxes are paid, the bidder can begin securing the title to the land.
One of the most important steps to deciding on a property to bid on is research, Shenk said. He encourages people to learn as much as they can about why the property is up for auction and how much work it will take to renovate the home. Many of the houses, he said, require significant repairs.
“The sales are not for everyone,” he said. “There are risks.”
There will be two more chances to learn about tax sales this month. The People’s History of Elkhart will host a tour at 2 p.m. Sept. 22 beginning at 1320 Prairie St. in Elkhart. The group will help renovate a former tax sale home from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29 at 1108 Cleveland Ave. in Elkhart.