Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 15, 2013

Home foreclosure could be 'windfall' for Benzie

BY ANGIE JACKSON ajackson@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — BEULAH — Tax foreclosure on a lakefront home valued near $800,000 could be a “windfall” for Benzie County.

A Crystal Lake home at 7189 Crystal Drive in Benzonia Township was foreclosed in April because Huntington Bank failed to pay more than $25,000 in taxes, County Treasurer Michelle Thompson said.

The home sits on 100 feet of lake frontage and is valued at $760,000, Thompson said. It will be auctioned in August unless it’s purchased by the state, county or township.

Money eventually could flow to the county’s general fund if the house is auctioned for more than its value, Thompson said. A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Treasury said proceeds first go into a delinquency account. The balance can be transferred to a county’s general fund in the second calendar year following foreclosure.

“We’ve never, ever had enough money where we needed to know what the next steps were,” Thompson said. “This one on Crystal Lake is kind of an oddity.”

Benzie County businessman Terry Money said vacant lots on Crystal Lake sell for at least $400,000. He referenced a 100-foot lot that auctioned for that price four or five years ago.

“This home has been remodeled and there are additions on it,” Money said. “Bottom line is it’s a windfall ... it’s an extremely valuable property.”

Thompson said she’s seen 50 feet of lake frontage sell for $200,000.

“And some of those had railroad beds and streets going in the middle of them, and some of them have the trail. They’re still that desirable,” she said.

Thompson did not know why Huntington Bank didn’t pay taxes. Huntington received seven notices dating back to 2011, she said.

“It’s kind of an odd thing in general for the county to foreclose on such a large parcel,” Thompson said.”Twenty-five thousand dollars worth of taxes versus $760,000 of value, you can generally come up with that money.”

“Huntington intends to work with the county to address questions about the property, and has no further comment at this time,” said bank spokesman Brent Wilder.

Thompson said the Crystal Lake property is among 18 foreclosed parcels this year, the county’s highest number yet.

“In these troubled times with all the foreclosures going on, our county staff and treasuer are doing a really good job,” Money said.

The Crystal Lake property and others will be auctioned Aug. 7 at the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee and will include online bidding.