Franklin County Creates Online Property Search Tool - The Missourian: County

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Franklin County Creates Online Property Search Tool

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 12:00 pm

If you are looking for a piece of property in a lake development for about $400, you may want to check Franklin County’s website.

Officials are working on a new online system to display parcels that the county has come to own after people failed to pay taxes.

Collector Linda Emmons said she hopes the new online system will result in more property being sold since it will make it easier for people to look at the lots.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he is glad the tool is there to help people view the property that is available. The new online list can be found on the collector’s page on Franklin County’s website, www.franklinmo.org.

Previously, people who were interested in buying the parcels had to manually look through a book, which could take a lot of time.

Emmons explained that the county’s property trustee, who signs over ownership, had to spend much time helping people navigate the book.

The county’s trustee, Don Wurdack with Franklin County Title, does not make much money from each property transfer, but was spending an inordinate amount of time on the task, Emmons said.

This interfered with his other duties such as property closings that went with his private business.

The trustee only gets 10 percent from each sale, which means he could only make about $30 on some sales, Wurdack told The Missourian last year.

Emmons said she thinks the trustee was ready to quit providing the service to the county unless a better system was worked out.

Indeed, Wurdack told The Missourian in July that there was a high probability that he would quit providing the county with the service.

The county did not want that to happen, so Emmons said the effort to get the system online was taken up. The system is not complete but does include the amount of back taxes and fees due as well as the name of the subdivision and other information. The county’s information technology department has put a lot of work into the effort, she added.

Emmons said the county would like to add a link to each parcel so people can see a map and possibly a picture of structures that may be on the parcels.

The county becomes the owner of delinquent tax properties after they fail to sell in three tax sales.

Emmons said those who buy them from the county are exempt from any liens that may on the parcels except for federal tax liens.

When people buy parcels they have to cover the costs of fees and the back taxes as well as the 10 percent fee to the trustee.

There are a total of 262 parcels on the county’s list, and some of them are in lake developments.

Many of the lots are in the $200 to $400 range.

But Emmons cautions people that some of the lots may not be suitable for home construction, but they could possibly be used for camping or fishing.

In some cases about five parcels would have to be purchased to create one lot that could be built on, Emmons noted. She estimates that some of them are about 50 wide and 150 feet deep.

Some of the lots could present topographic challenges, such as being hilly, while others may have no road to them, she added

“It’s buyer beware,” she said, adding that the land may be cheap, but unless people look at the lots they may not know what they are buying.

And if people buy lots in some of the developments, they may be subject to road and lake assessment fees charged by the trustees of the developments, she added.

The annual property taxes on the parcels could be low, however, in the range $5 to $10 a year, she said.

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