County seizes and sells tax-delinquent homes, land

Each year the Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre, puts bold ads in the paper reminding people to pay their property taxes on time, to avoid losing their homes or land. Despite the efforts, Yzaguirre said his office ends-up collecting several dozen properties. This year, 68 properties were put on a delinquent tax list, and only 31 property owners managed to make payment plans and spare their homes. The others, Yzaguirre said, fell into the hands of the county, and whoever had the cash to scoop-up a good deal.

"(Tuesday) we had a total of 20 properties left-over, and they sold totaling about $750,000 " that TMs what we collected," Yzaguirre said. Properties that didn't sell at auction, will be put up for bids again on the first Tuesday in September. Yzaguirre said it's tough to leave someone without a home or take their land, but paying property taxes is something no one is exempt from - especially when the county, cities and school districts depend on those funds to operate.

"The county tax office is not in the real estate business, we're not there to make money, Yzaguirre said.

If there's a home worth $80,000 and the taxes are $10,000, the starting bid is $10,000. This auction attracted 120 bidders.

"There's a possibility of buying a good house, a $50,000 to $60,000 house, for $10,000 to $15,000," Yzaguirre said. These deals are a big plus, Yzaguirre said, since the last thing the county wants is to get stuck with properties not getting paid for all over again.

"The idea is to sell them and put them back on the tax roll, because once they are transferred over to the county, they become exempt, Yzaguirre said, and they are not producing property taxes for the cities, counties and schools."