The South Greensburg rental home where Rich and Erin Paul have lived with their three young children for five years was up for sale Monday after its owner failed to pay property taxes.
The Pauls were among nearly 150 bidders who attended what Westmoreland County officials said was the largest public sale conducted in recent years to return tax-delinquent properties to the tax rolls.
“This is the third time it’s come up for a tax sale,” Rich Paul said. “We love the property, love the neighborhood and are now kind of worried about what happens next.”
The property’s current owner bought the home at a previous tax sale. The Pauls, who continue to pay rent to the homeowner, said they have been rebuffed in previous attempts to buy it after it once again fell into arrears for unpaid county, school and local taxes.
They were outbid at Monday’s tax sale, when the home sold for about $12,000.
“My intent is to contact whoever bought it and try to buy the house. It’s very disappointing,” Paul said.
The county conducts tax sales every September. This year, more than 600 properties were up for sale.
Tim Andrews, lawyer for the county’s tax office, said properties in arrears for at least two years were eligible for the sale, which was conducted via an auction process with the starting price listed as the amount of the taxes owed plus any additional liens and fees required to record new deeds.
Most of Monday’s bidders were investors, real estate developers and others looking to scoop up cheap properties.
Deb Chiado, director of the county’s tax office, said 128 properties were purchased at the sale. Officials said the county made $1.08 million from this year’s tax sale, about twice the record amount it received a year ago.
Matt Dunleavy, an investor from Philadelphia, bought five properties Monday. Dunleavy said he paid about $100,000 for the properties, which he said will look to resell, rehabilitate or keep as an investment.
“This is as competitive as it gets. I’ve never seen it as it was today,” Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy was outbid for one property in Sewickley that sold for $75,000, the largest amount paid Monday for a tax-delinquent parcel.
Properties left unsold Monday can be subjected to private tax sales and could be listed in the future for a judicial sale in which all liens and other financial obligations are removed.