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Berrien County to auction 375 properties in July

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- Berrien County's annual land auction is coming up next month and officials are reporting a record number of properties for sale. The county will be auctioning off 375 properties in July, double the typical number.

Peach Tree Estates is right across from Lincoln Township Park in a quiet area that is made up of mostly foreclosed vacant lots.

The abandoned subdivision is one of many in Berrien County.
 
"We have 38 units of government in Berrien County. 28 of them have a property that's been foreclosed on for a lack of paying the taxes, which is the highest we've ever had,” said Bret Witkowski, Berrien County Treasurer.

If you don’t pay your property taxes for three years, the county can foreclose on your property.

"2010 people were making the choice I can't afford this for lots of reasons and decided not to pay the taxes and then they continue to do that for 2011, 2012 taxes," said Witkowski.

The owners of the properties aren't the only ones who suffer.

"What we have is equal opportunity of foreclosures, where just every unit of government is getting hit, which means the school system is suffering also,” said Witkowski.

Witkowski hopes to the vacant lots and homes go to local buyers and developers.

"The reason we're doing the live auction first and then the internet second, is to give as many local residents as big an opportunity to buy the property first,” said Witkowski.

The properties that don't sell in July, will be sold online through eBay, or through what they call a scavenger auction in August.
 

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