MARSHALL COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - Going once, going twice, sold. Property auctions are taking place this week across northern Mississippi. For sale: homes, businesses and land owned by folks who haven't paid their property taxes.
Choose right and buyers can make a big profit, but fewer people are taking the risk this year.
Buyers pay the outstanding taxes and make one and a half percent interest until the property owner pays the debt. If the taxes aren't paid in two years, the auction buyer gets the property.
It's a way for the county to recoup money it's owed, while investors have the chance to make some.
"We've just got some money to invest and you can't draw as much interest any other place I know of," says Willy Anderson.
"It's better than most banks would pay," agrees Lynn Shaw, office manager at the Marshall County Tax Assessor's Office. "At one and a half percent interest, if it stayed unpaid for the full two years, you could make up to 36 percent interest."
The unpaid taxes are for all sorts of properties from vacant lots to residential homes, even businesses.
Marshall County is auctioning off more than 2,000 parcels of land. The sale is usually packed, but there are empty seats this year.
"I think it's the economy," says Shaw. "A lot of people are not getting their returns back and are just scared to invest more."
Anderson says it's all about choosing wisely, weighing the cost versus the interest and what he could make off of it.