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County conducts property auction

The Kitsap County Treasurer’s Office raised $263,267 at a tax title auction last week by selling off 33 odd-sized properties at bargain basement prices.

The money raised was distributed to various county departments with a small handling fee assessed by the Treasurer.

The benefit is yet to come, but the properties have now been returned to the tax rolls and are expected to generate property tax revenues for the county.

While the Treasurer’s Office posts the requisite legal notices in advance of the sales, Treasurer Barbara Stephenson said her office deliberately underpromotes the event “so the right people hear about this.”

So while the county doesn’t discourage investment, it doesn’t necessarily want to attract land speculators.

Stephenson’s office notifies property owners with land adjacent to the sale parcels, which are often small strips that are of no use to the general public.

Several of those who bought land were fine-tuning their own property. Ken Fletcher of Bainbridge Island purchased land that made up a right-of-way though two sections of his own property. He plans to close that path and open a new right-of-way in a more convenient location.

Miles Mason of Port Orchard bought land that has a dilapidated wall, so he could reconstruct that structure,

Charles Robe of Poulsbo purchased some adjoining green space.

Most of those looking for a jigsaw piece of land had an easy time filling out their property portfolio. Mike Pitts of Port Orchard faced an obstacle, as he engaged in a bidding war with Eric Turnquist of Bremerton.

Pitts eventually won, paying $400 for a strip of land adjoining his property.

Turnquist, who walked away with four properties, said he was using them for investment or development, even though they didn’t always appear they would suit that purpose.

“I’m looking for affordable property,” Turnquist said. “With the cost of land, the average blue-collar worker has nowhere to go. Here, I can buy easy and sell easy. If I make a little money on the side, that’s great.”

As he said this, one of the other bidders approached him and expressed interest in one of his new properties.

“You see? That’s exactly what I mean,” he said.

Turnquist told of a small property he bought last year, a 60-foot-by-220-foot lot that didn’t appear to be buildable. Still, he bought it for $3,000, invested a few hundred to determine the actual buildability, and it came up positive.

He plans to build an home on the site, one that the average Kitsap resident can afford.

In preparation for the sale. Stephenson notified not only the adjoining property owners but other county agencies, to determine any interest in the specific land. Additionally, the Treasurer’s Office worked with those departments in order to provide as much information about the land as possible.

The next tax title auction is scheduled for Feb. 10 and will be in conjunction with the sale of foreclosure properties.

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