By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Edgecombe County is not in the real estate business, however, over the past few months, its staff has made a strong case that it can compete with the best of them.
Edgecombe is selling, bidding out and auctioning 48 foreclosed properties in an effort to get rid of its surplus assets. And they are doing it at a quite modest price.
"It's going really well so far," said Brian Hassell, Edgecombe County planning director. "So far, we've sold 15 through upset bids and eight through the clerk of court (through an auction on the steps of the courthouse). We got about 23 still in surplus. It's a good start. We got a lot of momentum and we hope to keep it going.
"We're not trying to sell the property at market value. We're just trying to get our money back out of it."
The plan will also place the property back on the books where the county can collect annual taxes on it.
Edgecombe County Manager Lorenzo Carmon told commissioners during the county's April meeting that the 48 foreclosed properties are worth a total of $900,000 in taxes.
Perhaps the most intriguing method of attempting to get those tax dollars has been the bidding process. The process begins when foreclosed property is placed on bidding block. The suggested first bid is usually the amount of money that the county has paid in legal fees and the back taxes owed on property. However, bidders can place bids at any amount. That bid will be forwarded to the county commissioners for their approval.
Once a bid is approved, a public notice is placed in The Daily Southerner. There is a 10-day period where the bid could be upset. If no one posts an upset bid, the property will be sold to the bidder. If the bid is upset, the process will start over with the bid being posted once again in The Daily Southerner.
So far, the county has collected $8,200 while waiting on signatures for eight properties that total $17,000. There are also six properties which are in the upset stages that total $34,282.
One property, at 709 E. Lashley St., Pinetops, is in its 11th upset bid stage. The first bid was set at $3,598. The most current bid as of July 1 was $11,075. Tens bids have been placed on property at 1512 Cox Avenue in Rocky Mount. The first bid for the 17-acre tract was $6,812. Hassell said the property appeared to have been developed for a subdivision that was not carried out.
"In some cases through the upset bid process, we've doubled the amount of the first bid," Hassell said. "That's good for the county. The more we can make on the property the better off we are. It is working.
"We would like to get rid of these properties and put them back in the hands of responsible citizens who are going to pay their taxes."
For more information about the county's foreclosed property visit the county's website at www.edgecombecountync.gov. or contact the planning department at 641-7802. Information is also available on the county's Twitter and Facebook pages.