By MONICA LUNDQUIST
Cass County Correspondent
WALKER — Cass County Assessor Mark Peterson told the county board Tuesday he will watch early 2011 reports to see whether the number of homes selling and sale prices continue to trend upward here or whether November and December 2010 was just a fluke.
Excluding foreclosures or short sales or homes sold for $1 between family members, Peterson said 188 sold November and December 2010 represented the largest number sold in the same two-month period since 2005 when 198 properties sold.
For the whole year, the 657 arms length improved property sales in 2010 hit the highest point since 903 Cass properties sold in 2007, he reported. The average sale price per property increased $18,000 from $220,280 in 2009 to $238,259 in 2010.
On the dimmer side of the housing market here, Peterson said foreclosures continue at higher than normal rates. In fourth quarter 2010, 30 properties foreclosed. That is the same as 2008, but down from 36 in 2009.
Hardest hit was Sylvan Township, where seven properties in the township and two in the city of Pillager foreclosed the fourth quarter of 2010. The rest were scattered by one or two or none per township or city.
For full years, Cass had 140 foreclosed properties in 2008, 127 in 2009 and 167 in 2010.
There were 137 property sales in Cass County involving a bank as buyer or seller, Peterson said, meaning they either involved foreclosure or a short sale.
When county commissioners questioned whether this impacts property tax collections, Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe said banks generally are good about making any delinquent taxes current.
Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson said there can be delays in tax collections when foreclosed properties also involve an owner’s bankruptcy filing. In those cases, the county has to wait for court resolution on the bankruptcy.
County property taxes are considered a primary obligation and always are paid eventually under bankruptcy law, Anderson said.
The county board set 2 p.m. June 13 for the annual board of equalization meeting to hear property owners who wish to contest the value the county sets for their property. Anyone wishing to contest their value must first attend their local township or city board of appeal.
To make an appointment to be heard at the board of equalization, property owners should call the assessor’s office at 547-7298.