House sold for back taxes? You can still get it back - KMOV.com

House sold for back taxes? You can still get it back

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO -

Hundreds of St. Louis County properties could have new owners next month.

The county conducts a tax auction every year in August to recoup unpaid real estate taxes. Houses are sold after real estate taxes are deemed delinquent for three years. 

In 2017, 357 properties were sold at the St. Louis County tax auction.  Many of the buyers include out of state investors including an organization called WMAC 2013 and WMAC 2014, which are affiliated with Investa Services based in Georgia.

Several St. Louis County homeowners contacted News 4 to complain about their dealings with WMAC. Some are involved in litigation, others said they offered to purchase their homes back from the company with no luck. 

News 4 spoke with several individuals that still live in their homes, despite learning they no longer own the property. 

Jamison Stirling said problems with his lender led to an issue with his escrow account. 

Stirling said, “The mortgage company went defunct and never paid the taxes.” 

He is currently fighting WMAC to regain possession of his property.

In Berkeley, Sharon Gladney and her husband owned their home mortgage-free but fell behind on taxes. 

Gladney said “personal issues and a medical situation” lead to the delinquency. 

The Gladney’s home was purchased by WMAC 2014, but the Gladneys still live in the house and hope to resolve the situation. 

Despite losing their homes, the St. Louis County Director of Revenue Gregg Quinn told News 4 property owners have up to one year to reclaim their homes after it’s sold in the tax auction. 

“About 20 to 25 percent of the people whose homes are sold at auction redeem,” Quinn said.  

Of the 357 properties sold in the St. Louis County tax auction in 2017, 66 were redeemed by the original owner. 

In order to redeem the property, the homeowner must repay all tax debts dating back three years plus 10 percent interest. 

Quinn says homeowners can deal with the county directly, and don’t need to communicate with the new buyer. 

The individuals that spoke with News 4 regarding WMAC are past the one year point of redemption. 

Stirling told News 4 WMAC also owed money on real estate taxes in St. Louis County.

In early April, News 4 reviewed WMAC-related property records and determined many homes owned by WMAC listed outstanding tax balances. 

The president of Investa Services, John Ramsey, indicated the outstanding balances were a reflection of the timing of payments. 

In an email, Ramsey added, “Please know that any balances on properties for which WMAC currently holds a tax certificate will be paid in full this fall in connection with any deed applications we make with the county.” 

A recent review of St. Louis County property records indicates many of the WMAC-owned properties tax bills have been paid in full. 

Ramsey also told News 4 he offered to let the Gladney family rent their home back, but no deal was reached. 

Ramsey said Stirling has used every “motion conceivable to man” to delay the process. 

Quinn said a notification is sent before any property is sold in the tax sale. 

Quinn also told News 4 the new buyer must also send notification during the one year redemption period, giving property owners a final chance to get their properties back.

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