Van Buren Co. man fights to save home from auction

PAW PAW, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A Van Buren County man is fighting to save his home after it goes to auction.

He says he never knew his home in covert, was in foreclosure and the county planned to take it over.

Sitting in the crowded Van Buren County property auction, Joe Garcia was on a mission to buy back his own home.

"I brought seven grand, hopefully I can get under that, whatever it takes," says homeowner Joe Garcia.

He says no letters or any warning ever came to the house on 40th Avenue in Covert.

He lets his sister-in-law stay there now, she also told us she never received letters about owing back taxes.

But when Joe says he walked into the Van Buren County Treasurer's Office to pay his summer taxes last month he was told he doesn't own the property anymore, it's been foreclosed.

"The first thing that I'm thinking is the kids, sister in law, where are they going to go now? That's the first thing that came to my mind, what am I going to do now, where are they going to go now?"

We talked to County Treasurer Karen Makay at Tuesday's auction, she didn't know all the details of the specific property but says the county won't foreclose unless they have sent several warnings and made contact with the owner she says the county doesn't want to take property.

"No, the county does not want to, the idea is to get them back on the tax rolls. If the county owns them or the local unit owns them that doesn't help anyone," says Makay.

Garcia's property was being auctioned for a starting bid of $1700, which would be the amount of taxes he owes. He says he offered to pay it all last month, but was told he was too late.

At the auction Garcia was able to buy his house back but he was up against other bidders and had to spend $12,000 dollars to buy back what had already been his. And he only owed $1700 in back taxes.

We are still working to find out from the County Treasurer how exactly the oversight happened.