Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:11PM - 536 Views

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Though Melissa Jimenez is only 22, the Wilkes-Barre resident bought her mother a house Wednesday.

The generous act was attainable because she snatched up the property for $9,000 during Wednesday's back-tax auction.

It's exciting. I drove my mother by the home before the auction, and she liked it, said Jimenez, a first-time bidder who is now hooked on the opportunity to make real estate deals.

Seventy-six mostly residential properties were sold for a total $470,274 during the final-stage, free-and-clear auction for real estate with property taxes unpaid at least two years.

Bidders have no legal right to enter properties to inspect the interior of structures. Jimenez said the home she bought at 301 S. Sheridan St., Wilkes-Barre, appeared to be in decent shape. The prior owner paid $42,000 for the property in 1999, and it's assessed at $46,000.

It doesn't seem like it needs a lot of work, Jimenez said.

Bids on the property started at $873 to recoup the county's costs to advertise the sale. The bids escalated to $9,000 because other bidders were also interested.

Multiple bidders were attracted to about 50 properties Wednesday, while the rest went for minimum bids with no competition.

Colleen and Kenneth Yanora were relieved nobody else wanted a small lot with a carport on Forrest Street in Wilkes-Barre adjacent to their house, which they secured for $818 at Wednesday's auction.

The purchase will increase the value of their property by expanding the yard and allowing off-street parking. They've been eying the lot for years because it hasn't been maintained since the prior owner died, they said.

An auction newcomer, Colleen said her hands trembled when she lifted up her bid number in the fast-paced auction.

It was awesome, Colleen said as she waited in line at the county's tax claim office to pay.

It's a great day, her husband agreed.

Five Hazle Township commercial properties owned by James Lagana were pulled from Wednesday's auction and will be listed in a special free-and-clear sale in January because additional creditors must be notified, according to Northeast Revenue Service LLC, the county's tax claim operator.

These properties have a combined assessment of $4.3 million and should be auctioned at starting bids around $3,000 each.

Lagana and his companies owe more than $289,200 in property taxes for 2009 through 2011, county tax records show.

The 67 properties that didn't sell will go into repository, where they continue to accrue unpaid taxes in limbo unless someone submits a purchase offer accepted by taxing bodies. Available repository properties are listed at www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

What's next
Auction deals

Luzerne County's tax claim operator, Northeast Revenue Service LLC, posts information about future back-tax auctions on its website, www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

Some examples of purchases at Wednesday's auction on properties that attracted multiple bidders:

• $23,000 for a commercial apartment building at 599 Main St., Edwardsville, assessed at $172,000.

• $14,000 for a half-double at 375 Schuyler Ave., Kingston, assessed at $52,300.

• $35,000 for a 3,000-square-foot home on 1.74 acres at 73 Crossin Road in Lehman Township assessed at $303,400.

• $16,000 for a home at 107 E. Kirmar Ave., Newport Township, assessed at $65,200.

• $10,000 for a home at 70 Pierce St., Plymouth, assessed at $129,100.

• $12,000 for a home at 37 Mercer St., Plains Township, assessed at $57,600.

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