Tax lien sale brings late rush of buyers

When employees with the Mesa County Treasurer’s Office arrived at Two Rivers Convention Center on Wednesday morning to sell the liens on properties whose owners failed to pay taxes on them, they expected to find a relatively sparse gathering of people with shallow pockets.

Instead, they were greeted by a crowd spilling out of the front doors.

A late rush of buyers looking to capitalize on a record number of parcels helped fill the convention center for the county’s annual tax lien sale.

Officials sold all 1,270 liens, worth a little more than $1.8 million in tax liability, in about three and a half hours, Treasurer Monika Todd said. Last year, it took an hour and a half to sell 750 liens.

Todd figured that the recession, while bumping up the number of home and business owners who didn’t pay their tax bill this year, would draw fewer investors to purchase those liabilities. She was surprised to receive bids from a total of 255 buyers, which proved to be only slightly less than the 273 buyers last year. About 50 of this year’s buyers registered Wednesday morning, forcing the county to handwrite a handful of bidder numbers.

“We started a little late because we had so many buyers that registered (Wednesday),” Todd said. “It was amazing how many.”

Cliff Knapp of Grand Junction has attended the county’s tax lien sales for more than 20 years. He still owns the deed to one house on a lien he purchased years ago.

He said the interest rate that buyers receive on their lien purchases has declined over the years — it was down to 10 percent this year — but noted it’s lucrative compared with 2 or 3 percent on a long-term certificate of deposit.

Knapp said he and his wife purchased 10 liens Wednesday.


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