Macomb County says tax foreclosures plummet 30 percent

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Macomb County has seen a 30 percent drop in tax-foreclosed properties this year, county treasurer Derek Miller announced Thursday.

Miller said the county recorded 318 properties on its tax foreclosure list, which is down from last year’s 449.

The properties account for just over $1.7 million in total delinquency and date back to 2013, or prior year, taxes.

“The decline is a sign of the economy improving,” Miller said in a statement. “But it’s also the product of a hard-working staff that goes above and beyond the statutory responsibilities and some new initiatives we’ve put in place to help people save their homes.”

Macomb County officials say they have recently launched a more aggressive effort to help taxpayers who are in jeopardy of foreclosures.

Miller noted the Keep Macomb Your Home Campaign in March which offers guidance for taxpayers on important deadlines and options for saving their properties from foreclosure. The campaign also increased communication between the county and taxpayers, Miller said.

Other efforts have included tax collectors knocking on doors to discuss options with homeowners or leaving notices, said the county’s deputy treasurer, Jeremy Fisher.

“We talk to people about what’s going on ... we do everything possible to work something out,” he said. “We send people out multiple times per property to get the greatest impact.”

Miller said 363 taxpayers received deferral from foreclosure and were placed on a payment plan.

Thursday’s announcement comes just two weeks after Wayne County reported a 36 percent decline in tax foreclosed properties. Wayne expects as many as 18,000 properties will be headed to the annual tax foreclosure auction this fall.

Wayne County officials credited the decline in part to new payment plans that reduce interest rates for many homeowners and federal aid available to homeowners through the Step Forward Michigan program.

Oakland County also reported a drop in tax foreclosures.

Treasurer Andrew Meisner said 554 properties will go to a tax foreclosure sale, which is about one third of the 1,650 foreclosures in 2012.

“I see it as a reflection of recovery in the housing market, some increase in the job market and people have more of an ability to pay,” Meisner said.

Meisner said there are 10,000-plus payment programs arranged by his office with a 90 percent compliance rate.

“Local governments are turning less properties over to us for foreclosure,” he said. “In 2015, 97 percent were paying and only 3 percent went to the county as delinquent.”

According to Macomb County, properties that remain unpaid after two and a half years are foreclosed and sold to local communities or auctioned off.

Miller said in 2014, he paid nearly $46 million out of the delinquent tax revolving fund to local municipalities for 27,585 properties.

Staff Writers Mike Martindale and Christine MacDonald contributed.