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City of Lynchburg sells homes after homeowners fail to pay taxes

Several buyers bid on Lynchburg properties at an April auction. (Photo: Whitney Burney)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The city of Lynchburg is cashing in after auctioning off several properties this afternoon.

The sale is part of a judicial auction that Virginia cities host periodically throughout the year. Attorneys say Virginia law holds that if a property owner doesn't pay real estate taxes, after two years the city has the right to sell it.

Monday the city auctioned off 13 properties.

Homeowners are given a warning and have 30 days to make an arrangement to pay the owed taxes. If they don't, the city will sell.

Homeowners have until the day of the auction to redeem their home and if the homeowner redeems their home or lot they are responsible to pay all back taxes and fees.

"The nice thing about this provision in the law is that the city can recover 100% of the taxes. There's no attorney's fees paid and no court costs paid," said Attorney James Elliott who has worked with the city since the 1990's.

Elliott says just last year he helped the city to collect almost $1 million in unpaid real estate tax.

Many of the buyers who were at the auction were developers who say they plan to flip the houses. Others were looking to re-sell them for profit.

Some of the properties went for less than 50% of their appraised value.

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