An unpaid tax delinquency for one property owner can mean a great bargain on a home for someone else during Summit County's annual May Tax Sale. This year's sale is May 22 and currently features 17 properties.

Here is how the tax sale works: Every year, any property which has been delinquent on property taxes for four years -- and not redeemed by March 15 after that four-year date -- is included in the sale. The day of the sale, a live auction is held at the County Courthouse where the starting bid for each property is the total amount of taxes, penalties and interest due, according to Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier.

Owners of the properties listed in the sale will have until May 22 at 10 a.m. to pay the taxes owed and remove their property from the list. Once the sale begins at 10 a.m., however, any properties not removed will be immediately deeded over to Summit County, Frazier said.

"At 10 a.m., all liens on the property are null and void. If there was a mortgage, it is void," Frazier said. "However, title companies have taken the stance that they will not issue title insurance on [a property] for up to five years because of possible lawsuits."

The highest bidder for each item will receive that property, but only if the bid equals the minimum amount as stated. Successful bidders must pay that amount in full to the Treasurer's Office by 5 p.m. that day, Frazier said.

A tax deed will be issued roughly two weeks after the sale, but must be reviewed and approved by the County Council. Frazier said that the owner can take legal action on the property, such an action to quiet title, which would require that the owner will do something with the property within the next five years.

Frazier said the Auditor's Office stays in close touch with the Treasurer's Office to remove any properties from the list if taxes are paid -- all the way up until the sale itself. Oftentimes owners come in to the Auditor's Office in the weeks before and the day of the sale to redeem their properties. Frazier encourages owners to do just this.

"We don't want the properties. The money above taxes goes to previous owners and lien holders if they've filed for it, or to the state school fund," Frazier said. "The county gets zero out of it other than the taxes collected and paid."

This year's sale does not feature nearly as many properties as in years past, such as during the recession of 2008. During the sale's earlier years, there would be as many as 100 properties, Frazier said. The number listed rarely is as low as 10, however.

Frazier said individuals should arrive at the sale early to register and receive a number to participate in the auction. He encouraged residents to come and participate, but especially for the owners to come and redeem the properties.

"There are some fairly expensive properties on the sale, so hopefully people will come and redeem them," Frazier said. "[The auction] is nothing but a fun, friendly place."

The May Tax Sale will be held Thursday, May 22, at 10 a.m. in the Summit County Courthouse Council Chambers.

The amount of taxes owed on the properties listed ranges from just over $1,000 to over $88,000. Individuals can view the list by going to summitcounty.org and under 'Government' select 'Departments' and then 'Auditor.'