County looking to auction forfeited properties

Published 10:25 am Monday, June 14, 2010

The Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office is preparing for its annual public auction of forfeited properties.

Dennis Distad, auditor-treasurer of Freeborn County, said his office will look at forfeited properties this week. A list will be available online around the last week of June at Distad said most of the properties are empty lots, but for personal homes he always tries work with those who come to make a payment plan.

“Freeborn County doesn’t want to be a Realtor,” Distad said. “If we can work with someone to keep them in their home we want to do that.”

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He said he’s worked with people to set up payments on the taxes they owe, but it’s best if they come in as soon as possible after they can’t pay.

“The longer they wait the more impossible it becomes,” Distad said.

He was referring to the fact that the longer someone waits to pay their taxes the more penalties accrue and become even harder to pay. About 20 properties go up for public auction each year.

If owners pay property taxes after the due dates of March 17 and Oct. 15. a penalty starts accruing. The penalty is a percentage of the property taxes that are owed. So if an owner owed $100, but paid late on May 18 that owner would then owe $102. If that owner waited until Oct. 1 to pay the new amount owed would be $108.

Property Type May 18 June 1 July 1 Aug. 1 Sept. 1 Oct. 1 Oct. 16 Nov. 1 Nov. 16 Dec. 1 Jan. 1, 2011


Taxes March 17 (1st half) 2% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 8% 8% 8% 8% 10%

Taxes Oct. 15 (2nd half) 2% 6% 6% 8% 10%

Both Unpaid 5% 7% 7% 8% 10%


Taxes March 17 (1st half) 4% 8% 9% 10% 11% 12% 12% 12% 12% 12% 14%

Taxes Oct. 15 (2nd half) 4% 8% 8% 12% 14%

Both Unpaid 8% 10% 10% 12% 14%
There are many steps before a property is put on the public auction. For a personal property or home, an owner has three years to pay their overdue taxes before it would be up for auction in the fourth year. For commercial properties, owners have five years to pay their overdue taxes before it would be sold in the sixth year after the owner stopped paying property taxes. After the three- or five-year time limit a notice is sent to the owner, the owner is served a notice by the sheriff. Property-tax delinquencies are published in the county’s legal newspaper, the Albert Lea Tribune.

The county and the state are the only governmental bodies with influence on property forfeitures. The city of Albert Lea does not control the auctions or properties, but it does get preferential choice before the public if there is a property it would like to buy.

About 2 to 2 1/2 percent of property owners in Freeborn County reach the point of delinquency after the three- or five-year grace period, and Distad said after they get the notice letter most pay before the information would become published. About 1 percent of people don’t pay and then those properties would be added to the list of forfeitures on the public auction.

“Some counties don’t do forfeit sales, but Freeborn County does one every year,” Distad said. “We do want to work with people before the property becomes delinquent.”