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Bidders excluded from sale

Validity of property sales questioned

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Clearfield County woman is questioning the validity of property sales completed Friday at the Blair County Courthouse because she and others were excluded from the auction.

“Every sale that went through today should be appealed,” said Tracy Brumbaugh of Houtzdale, who wanted to bid and never got the chance.

“I was there by 8:45 a.m. and other people were, too,” Brumbaugh said. “One guy was there from Pottsville. Another traveled from Lancaster and none of us got in.”

Brumbaugh said she and the others — about 10 — were initially told at the courthouse entrance that they weren’t being admitted because attendance at the upset tax sale was capped due of COVID-19.

Shortly thereafter, Brumbaugh said they were told they weren’t being admitted because it was past

9 a.m. and that they were too late.

“We definitely were there before 9 a.m.,” she said.

Solicitor Nathan Karn said Friday that if any potential bidder was turned away before 9 a.m., the county would owe that bidder an apology.

As for those seeking entry after 9 a.m., Karn pointed to the policy requiring bidders to be present and registered by the 9 a.m. starting time.

“We have had trouble in prior years with people arriving late and interrupting the sale in order to get registered, so this policy was implemented to solve this problem,” Karn said.

The policy can be found on the county’s Tax Claim office website and on its bidder registration form that must be submitted to participate in the sale. It’s also included in sale advertisements.

When asked if Friday’s sales could be challenged because potential bidders were shut out of the sale, including one who might have rendered higher bids, Karn said he wouldn’t agree.

“Keep in mind that the upset sale is not a free and clear sale,” the solicitor said. “Any holder of mortgage or other lien retains their rights in the property. As such, if there is not sufficient money from the bid to pay off such liens, those liens are still enforceable.”

The county’s website also notes that all sales completed Friday, through the auction and after payment of the bid price and related fees, are subject to confirmation by the county court. Challenges to the process would have to be filed with the county court.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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