PATTERSON -- Homeowners in Patterson's Walker Ranch can rest easy: Their homes won't be sold to pay back taxes.
The developer who built the subdivision, Richmond American Homes, has paid the $48,793 in delinquent property taxes, late fees and interest.
"We have sent letters to (Walker Ranch homeowners) informing them their defaulted taxes have been paid, and all further action on those auction proceedings have been withdrawn," said Jegan L. Raja, Stanislaus County assistant tax collector. "We have also thanked them for their patience."
That's great news for the 120 homeowners in that neighborhood. Last week they were shocked to received certified letters from the tax collector warning them their homes could be sold at tax auctions unless the delinquent tax bill was paid.
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Those taxes had been owed since 2003, which was before the property was subdivided into residential lots.
The previous landowner, SFSG LLC of Newport Beach, sold the land to Richmond American Homes without paying the property taxes. The outstanding debt apparently wasn't caught during the escrow and title insurance process for that sale, nor for any of the subsequent home sales in that subdivision.
As state law requires, the tax collector kept billing the original landowner for the debt, adding fees and 18 percent per year in interest charges. After taxes aren't paid for five years, tax collectors are required to recoup the debt by selling the property.
Stanislaus County Tax Collector Gordon Ford said the threat of a tax auction almost always results in the debt being paid. He said sometimes title insurance companies end up paying the bill.
This time, the developer paid it.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.