Berrien beachfront lot sells for $145K

A piece of property in Berrien County with 80 feet of Lake Michigan beach front today sold for $145,000.

“If you had a road there, if the existing road was there, an 80 foot piece, you’d pay at least $2 million, $1 million and a half to $2 million,” said unsuccessful bidder Jay Hergott.

It was arguably the biggest bargain to be found at today’s Berrien County auction of tax delinquent properties.

The people that eventually got it, own the house adjacent and they will combine it with the property they have and they’ll have one big parcel,” said Hergott. “It will be a beautiful, beautiful piece of property for them.”

The lot in the Village of Michiana, ended up in the county’s hands because the former owner from Barefoot Bay, Florida failed to pay property taxes for three years.

“So we’ve got a load of them today, 360 (properties) that’s the most we’ve ever had and it’s really a reflection of the economy from three years ago,” said Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski. “It’s no necessarily today because people started walking away from stuff in 2009, 2010, so we expect the number to start diminishing in the next few years.”

For the first time, entire subdivisions ended up on the auction block, including Peach Tree Estates in Lincoln Township. “Yeah, we’ve never had a subdivision before, this is a condominium subdivision type of setting,” said Witkowski. “There’s 18 lots, we’re going to make whoever buys it, has to buy all 18. Just makes it easier for the township to control and manage what’s going on.”

Prices for the properties were set at the amount of back taxes owed.

“I purchased one in Niles, Fulkerson Park off 933, and nice little house from the outside, you can’t go in them so you don’t know any more than what you see on the outside,” said Fred Krueger. Krueger invested in a house—near his home—where he now intends to spend a little time.

“Assessed value is around $23, $24 (thousand) so it could be a $50,000 house with a little work. You know, guy puts a little work and a little time in it. We try to do the work ourselves you know, that way you can turn it and you know, maybe making a little bit of money,” said Krueger.

Berrien County has a total of 39 units of government. 24 of those (about 62 percent) had properties in the auction.

Properties that were not sold today will now be offered in an internet auction.

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