Each year, the Doña Ana County Treasurer, along with the state’s 32 other county treasurers, are required by law to compile a list of properties on which property taxes have not been paid. If the owner has not paid the overdue taxes within three years of the first missed payment, New Mexico law requires the state to collect the arrears by selling the property at auction.
The next Doña Ana County Delinquent Property Tax Auctions will be held at the commission rooms of the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd. in Las Cruces, Wednesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 8. Auctions start at 10 a.m. Two hundred and thirteen homes, lots and commercial properties are currently on the block. Here’s how the process works:
The first step is to obtain a list of properties to be auctioned from the county clerk’s office or the state’s tax and revenue division. The easiest way to do this is to simply type the words “New Mexico State Delinquent Property Auction” into your browser. You will find links to upcoming auctions at the top of the page.
The second step is to diligently search title and court documents to determine if any liens, other than those for property taxes, have been levied against the property. Carrying out the search is a crucial step because only the property tax lien is extinguished by the sale. All remaining privileges will remain in place and become the responsibility of the new owner. Best practice requires that a commitment to issue title insurance be obtained from a title company before bidding on a property.
The third step is to register and obtain a bidder number from the auctioneer.
Examples of properties up for auction Dec. 7 include a 2,002-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home on Wildwind Road in Las Cruces valued at $214,579 – minimum bid $14,400; a 1,505 square foot 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Mesilla Park with an estimated value of $68,000 – minimum bid $1,400; and a 1.15 acre residential lot on Tobosa Road in the Las Alturas neighborhood of Las Cruces valued at $60,000 – minimum bid $5,400.
Properties to be auctioned on December 8 include a 2.62-acre plot of land in Garfield near Carriage Hills Road valued at $22,270 – minimum bid $3,700; a 24.95 acre parcel of land on Westside Road in La Union with an assessed value of $24,950 — minimum bid $4,500; and a 1,508 square foot 3-bedroom, 2-bath home on Nanez Road in the Anthony, NM area valued at $112,900 – minimum bid $12,100. It is important to keep in mind that the assessed value of a given property may not reflect its true market value.
Determining the physical condition of the property can be difficult. Although bidders may walk past properties or view them from a public sidewalk, the Department of Taxes and Revenue cautions that “prospective buyers should not trespass on a listed property or contact or disturb occupants, as the case may be. appropriate, for the purpose of gathering information about any listed property.
If you are a successful bidder, you will be required to pay the full amount of your purchase on the spot. No cash payment will be accepted, but the County will accept money orders, certified checks, cashier’s checks, or personal or business checks accompanied by a letter of credit which will guarantee payment.
Being a winning bidder in the sale does not necessarily mean that you will be the ultimate owner of the property. Federal law gives the IRS 120 days from the date of sale to determine whether it wishes to seize the property to satisfy any liens it may have against the previous owner. In the event the property is seized by the IRS, only the amount paid at the auction will be refunded. So don’t put up that fence or remodel that kitchen until you’re sure the buy-back period has passed.
Another important point to remember is that the price paid when selling is not considered the actual value of the property for property tax purposes. In other words, if you buy a $1 million property for $10.00, the property taxes will be calculated using the market value of $1 million, not the sale price of $10.00.
Meet at closing time.
Gary Sandler is a full-time realtor and president of Gary Sandler Inc., real estate agents in Las Cruces. He loves answering questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or Gary@GarySandler.com.