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Looking for lakeshore? Buildable land? How about pasture in Montana? Check out the Becker County land sale

The two most expensive lakeshore parcels on the upcoming Becker County public auction are on Abbey Lake south of Detroit Lake and Height of Land Lake about 15 miles east of Detroit Lakes.

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The turquise outline shows a 15-plus acre site on the non-lake side of Shorewood Drive that will be on the Becker County tax-forfeited land sale in October. (Screenshot from Becker County website Aug. 17, 2021)

Looking for property in Becker County? There is an auction coming up on land where the owners have failed to pay the taxes, forfeiting the land to the county.

The most expensive lakeshore parcels are starting at about $75,000, but non-lakeshore parcels have minimum bids as little as $3,400 on the Becker County tax-forfeited land sale, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the courthouse.

The two most expensive lakeshore parcels on the public auction are on Abbey Lake south of Detroit Lake and Height of Land Lake about 15 miles east of Detroit Lakes. The minimum bids on those two parcels are a bit of a mystery, judging by the parcel information on the Becker County website.

The 3.37-acre Abbey Lake site, for example, has a minimum bid of $74,600, which seems to be based on the 2020 valuation, since the much lower 2021 valuation is listed at $47,600.

As for the 1-acre Height of Land Lake parcel, it has no legal access, appears to be mostly marshland, and is valued at just $26,200 this year, up from $23,900 in 2019. But the minimum bid is still $75,000.

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As you can see, tax-forfeited land auctions are like a box of chocolates (with apologies to Forrest Gump). You never know what you’re gonna get.

There’s an undeveloped, roughly triangular 1.37-acre lake lot on the southwest bay of Abbey Lake that starts bidding at $38,200. The estimated value of that property has more than doubled in the last two years to $43,900.

Most of the parcels don’t have lakeshore, but have a lower minimum bid.

There’s an undeveloped 1.5 acre lot just off Highway 34 about a half-mile from Height of Land Lake, with a concrete foundation still there from 1990: 26 feet wide, 8 feet high and 46 feet long. Minimum bid is $10,000. The county assessor’s office puts the land value at $13,600.

Or for a minimum bid of $7,200, you can be in the running for a 1-acre (non-lakeshore) lot valued at $10,900 at the former Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat site, which has been subdivided into a number of lots.

For a measly $500 minimum bid, you can compete for a third of an acre in Red Willow Heights in Frazee. The only catch is $17,166 in special assessments. The value of that parcel doubled to $14,200 this year.

A similar-sized lot in the same development has a minimum bid of $1,000, with $10,299 in special assessments. It’s value also doubled this year, to $14,400.

There’s a parcel in Detroit Lakes, more than 15 acres, with a minimum starting bid of $10,000 and an assessed value of $46,600, which has not changed in the last three years. It is located on the non-lake side of Shorewood Drive.

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In Audubon, the bidding starts at $10,800 for an undeveloped lot on the corner of Third Street and Hawk Street, with an assessed value of $14,300.

On the southwest area of Stakke Lake in Lake Park Township there’s a 4-acre parcel with minimum starting bid of $30,400, valued at $36,300. It has 200 feet of lakeshore listed as “poor” and 1.29 acres of lakeshore listed as having “no value.”

There are half-dozen parcels for sale in White Earth township, and parcels in Silver Leaf and Holmesville townships with no legal access.

There’s a parcel for sale by oral auction, following the tax-forfeited sale, involving an acre in Burlington Township with a starting bid of $14,200. It has a 9-foot by 9-foot wooden shed, so you can move right in, and the property is assessed at $18,400 and located on (south) Tower Road near Meadow Road.

And after that, in an odd twist, sealed bids will be opened on a quarter ownership of 160 acres of pasture land in Montana's Glacier County. The minimum bid is $11,000.

How did Montana land end up in a Becker County tax-forfeited land sale? Glad you asked: “Like 40 years ago,” explained Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Mary Hendrickson, “there was a (Becker County) Human Services lien against a person who passed away.”

A man there has been making lease payments on that land to Becker County for some 20 years, and has asked to buy that 40 acres, she said. It’s a long way to travel, so the county set up a sealed bid process that can be done by mail.

The county holds its tax-forfeited land sales every other year, on non-election years, because the same staff handles elections, Hendrickson said. After land is forfeited to the county for failure to pay property taxes, those taxes are wiped away and the new buyers have a fresh start.

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