Forfeited property auction set

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Mississippi Secretary of State has 599 parcels of unclaimed land totaling $3.7 million in Warren County, and 59 of those in the city of Vicksburg are up for sale. 

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the 59 parcels, valued at $817,444, are being sold by auction to the highest bidder, and people interested in buying one or more of the properties have until 5 p.m. Oct. 29 to submit a written bid by mail. The bids will be opened at 10 a.m. Oct. 30. Vicksburg, he said, is the sixth city to have an auction of forfeited property, adding previous auctions have been very successful.

“We just did this with the city of Jackson,” Hosemann said. “We put up 366 for auction, 360 were bid on, and we are in the process of going through that. We believe we’ve got a very good group of parcels that would be valuable to people in Warren County. We encourage everybody to bid. We do have a process on our notice that we can reject any bid, so don’t send us a bid for a dollar.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“Usually what we’ve found is when we sell these they go back on the tax rolls,” he said. “Most of the money we collect will go back to the city, the county and the school districts. The school district will get half and the city will get a quarter.”

The forfeited properties are land initially up for sale at county tax sales and never sold or reclaimed by the original owner. After the property lies unclaimed for three years, it is stricken from the tax rolls and turned over to the state, where it goes into the Secretary of State’s public lands inventory. Some of the local properties have homes on them with a value of up to $89,000, Hosemann said.
He said the 59 tracts of land for Vicksburg’s auction were selected after meetings between representatives of his office and City Attorney Nancy Thomas. The auction will be advertised in The Vicksburg Post, and on the city of Vicksburg’s and the Secretary of State’s websites, and will include photographs of the properties in the auction.

People submitting bids should put each bid on a separate sheet of paper, put it in a sealed envelope and mail it to the Secretary of State’s office at P.O. Box 135 Jackson, MS 39205 and marked “Secretary of State, Public Lands Division — Bid.”

He said his office is allowed by law to reduce the amount for tax-forfeited properties to a more reasonable amount for sale, adding any liens on the properties are removed when they come to the state.

“You’ll get a patent from us (which conveys the property to the buyer), which is the equivalent of a quit claim deed,” he said.

“There hasn’t been any claim on these (parcels) for at least three years, before you ever get here (sale),” Hosemann said, “so it would be quite rare that someone would have an interest or a cloud on a title at this point.”

After the bids are opened, he said, the winning bidders will receive a notice their bid has been accepted. “It takes 30 days to notify the prior owners,” he said. “We normally try to close within 60 to 90 days. Our patents come with no obligations.”

Hosemann said his office will also take bids on the other parcels in Warren County, “so I’m hoping this will create some interest in some others, and all of those are listed on our website, and we have an online application that is very simple to use.”

“It think it’s a rare opportunity where people can come in and vote on property of this magnitude,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “It’s an opportunity for them to come in and get some property and develop it and put it back on the tax rolls. That’s the part I like.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John