Harwich Considers Selling Tax Liens

KA_Harwich_Winter_Town hall offices_121615 (9)HARWICH – The town of Harwich is looking to collect on the 326 properties that owe about $5.6 million in outstanding tax title liens.

Town officials are considering selling the liens to private investors in an auction.

“We would sell the tax liens and then the company that would buy them would be more aggressive,” said Treasurer and Tax Collector Amy Bullock, in a recent presentation to selectmen.

Bullock said taking property owners to land court for foreclosure can be a long process for the town.

“Historically, we take a few every few years and put them into land court for foreclosure,” she said. “Since 1997 there have only been four or five that have been foreclosed on.”

Only 91 of the properties, or 28 percent, have homes or buildings on them and only 39 appear to be owner occupied, according to Bullock. The majority or the properties that have structures are either rental properties or second homes.

Bullock said the town usually puts a tax title lien on properties after a delinquency of about a year-and-a-half to two years.

“Once they are in tax title, once there is a lien placed on them it’s 16 percent interest which is pretty steep,” she said.

Bullock was joined at the board of selectmen meeting by William Cowin, who was representing Tallage, LLC, a tax lien investment company from Boston. Bullock said, according to Cowin, that 30 to 40 percent of the tax titles get paid off prior to the auction once the sales are published.

Selectman Christopher Clark said in the past the town would pursue large money properties.

“It’s getting to be overwhelming,” he said. “I think this gives us an opportunity to get up to speed.”

Clark said the town of Yarmouth was recently in a similar situation with about 300 property’s overdue and whittled that number down to about 40.

“I think now when you get such a large amount we have to try to get caught up and I think this strategy makes a lot of sense at this stage,” Clark said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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