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County shows selectivity in acquiring properties

– The Allen County Community Development Corp. is making an effort to be more selective when acquiring properties and to scrutinize more closely the potential buyers of those properties.

Dave Fuller, county building commissioner, told the Allen County commissioners Friday that their efforts are paying off.

“About 82 percent of the properties purchased last year were bought by individuals for personal residential use,” Fuller said.

The corporation is the entity created by the county to take abandoned properties and sell them to private owners. Homes fall to county ownership typically after being foreclosed or abandoned.

In the past, some sites were sold to speculative buyers or those with previous tax defaults, and the properties ended up returning to the county’s tax sales in three or four years, Fuller said.

The corporation is not selling to speculators in the same manner that it once did, he said.

Vacant lots were often bought by speculative buyers with the intent of marking the properties up significantly and selling them to adjacent owners, he said.

“If that didn’t happen, the properties were allowed to go into default and then came right back to the tax sales,” Fuller said.

The titles and deeds of properties that are turned down by the county stay with the owners who defaulted.

“The down side is that these properties will go into the county’s tax sales year after year,” Fuller said.

Currently, the county has 638 parcels for sale, down from the 2,200 it had just a few years ago, he said.

In the past year, the county sold 67 sites that included structures and 264 vacant lots for a total of $364,952.

Those lots were from previous years and no new lots were accepted by the corporation in 2012, Fuller said.

The lots don’t generate much revenue, in part, because demolition costs are up and maintenance costs have skyrocketed, he said. The county spent $140,408 for demolition last year and $32,379 for mowing services on the properties.

Early last year, Fort Wayne officials said they were no longer willing to continue a long-standing agreement to mow city properties.

Due to that decision, the corporation did not accept titles to new vacant properties within the city limits from tax sales unless they were deemed marketable, Fuller said.

“We have fine-tuned the process of evaluating buyers and selling the properties in a competitive bid process, which drives the cost up,” Fuller said.

To see a list of the county’s available properties go to