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Scott officials approve vacant properties for sheriff's sale

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
 

Scott officials are making a push to get some of the township's vacant properties back on the tax rolls by finding sellers willing to refurbish and sell the properties.

Township commissioners recently approved putting four properties up for sheriff's sale. Code enforcement officer Bob Fischer said he has a “couple people” interested, some of whom he has worked with before and who are looking to flip – repair and resell – the houses.

“The houses are deteriorating,” he said. “Pretty soon, you have to tear them down, and then you get no tax value. At some point, you just have to cut your losses.”

He said the properties on Locust and Magazine streets, Boroview Avenue and Scrubgrass Road are just the start.

“They're deteriorating the neighborhoods,” he said.

But sheriff's sales can be costly to a municipality, said Carnegie solicitor Joe Lucas, especially when there are no committed buyers before the property goes up for sale.

“The problem is that the cost of the properties is such that – with taxes and liens – a lot of people don't want to buy them,” Lucas said.

Even with taxes and liens stricken by the court, potential buyers can be reluctant because properties often are in a state of disrepair. It costs the borough around $5,000 just to take a property to sheriff's sale.

“We're out money, and if we haven't sold the property, we're out doubly as bad,” Lucas said. “We're out the sale cost, and we're out the taxes. Then you've got this dilapidated property sitting in the borough that nobody's taking care of. Then you tear it down at the borough's expense.”

Depending on the cost of demolition, if the property reaches that point, a municipality can be out tens of thousands of dollars at the end of the process.

Bridgeville Manager Lori Collins said the borough generally relies on the school district to initiate sheriff's sales, though it intends to begin working closely with its tax agency, Jordan Tax, and the borough solicitor to take care of liened and abandoned properties.

“Our ultimate goal is to get these properties back on the tax rolls,” she said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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