Foreclosure sale and auction put property back on tax rolls

MARFA – There was no shortage of onlookers and prospective buyers gathered around the Presidio County Courthouse entrance Tuesday morning to experience the bidding on for properties seized by the county. The properties were being auctioned for sale after local taxes were left delinquent and subsequent fees unpaid for five years or more, or the properties were not maintained and kept up to city code.

The county contracted with the Texas law firm Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott‚ LLP (Perdue) to identify the properties that met the delinquent criteria. According to a Perdue attorney, property owners were given notice of the intent to auction and allowed 10 days to respond.

According to Perdue, public notice of the 11 properties proposed for auction was published at the courthouse, appraisal district, city office, and local newspaper 20 days before the auction.

The list of 11 properties was whittled down to only five in the days leading up to the auction, as property owners took advantage of the opportunity to pay back taxes in advance of the sale and keep their real estate.

Properties owned by Anselmo S. Hernandez Jr. and Josefina R. Williams were removed from the list of remaining five within days and merely minutes, respectively, before the auction began.

Marfa Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger was in attendance and said, “I’m glad all the tax entities are recouping the back taxes on the properties and it was heartening to see that eight of the eleven listed were resolved with the original owners.”

Starting promptly at 10am, the remaining three properties were put to auction. Prospective buyers were issued auction numbers and led by Presidio County Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez through the process. The starting bid dollar amounts were based on the lesser of either the back taxes and fees owed, or the appraised value, and ranged from roughly $8,000 to $28,000.

As the price crept higher with each competing bid, interest dwindled quickly to a couple of determined buyers. When all bids were in, two properties went to Neil Chavigny of Marfa, 1208 Philadelphia Street for $49,000 and 718 W. Waco Street for $50,000; and one property to Mark Morrison of Marfa and Dallas at 219 W. Lincoln Street for $65,000.

Although the property deeds will be transferred to the winning bidders, there is still a redemption period of up to 180 days for the previous owners to pay the bid price and some additional fees to get the property back.

Marfan Lori Wilmarth, the Per-due employee present for the auction, advised the new owners to not make any modifications to the properties until the redemption period is past.

Perdue and the Texas Communities Group, LLC (TCG) were hired this year to address a backlog of seized properties owned by the county. When properties don’t sell at auction they are transferred to TCG to market and sell. The stated goal of TCG is “ . . . to increase our current tax values by impacting a city’s lowest valued properties in a positive manner . . . by implementing an effective plan to address dilapidated and abandoned structures, to creatively market your inventory of trust property, and to utilize acquired properties to meet the housing needs of our residents.”

The TCG Website has around 80 properties in Presidio County ranging from roughly $500 to $132,000.

According to Molly Flores of TCG, these are properties that went through the initial bidding process like the one on Tuesday in Marfa and were not ultimately purchased.

Flores said anyone can bid on these properties and after 25 days of the highest bid the winning bid is sent to the local government for final approval.

The TCG property search can be found at: Recent Presidio County Commissioner’s Court meetings show approval of bidding on TCG advertized properties, including multiple properties located in Presidio County purchased by Marfa’s own Presidio County Justice of the Peace David Beebe and in the City of Presidio by Mike O’Connor/Santa Santa Cruz Land & Cattle Inc. of Marfa and Operative Holding, LLC.