Wadena County Board: Tax forfeited land sale going to online only

The properties represents over $1 million in assessed value.

Wadena County Commissioners 2021 2.jpg
Wadena County board members include commissioners Bill Stearns (left), Murlyn Kreklau, board chair Sheldon Monson, Mike Weyer and Jon Kangas. Photo courtesy of the Verndale Sun
Contributed / Verndale Sun

Unable to have both in-person and online land auctions later this fall, the Wadena County Board of Commissioners agreed to move to an online-only auction planned for September.

The county is working with Bid4Assets to conduct the sale. Bidders must pay a $100 deposit fee a week prior to the auction start date to be able to take part in the auction. This is like securing a bidding number. Those that are unsuccessful in buying property will have their deposits refunded. Commissioners discussed that they should make it very clear to the public what they have to do to take part in the auction.

Bid4Assets earns $100 for each property sold from the buyer. That amount is added on to the minimum bid amount. There is no cost to the county to hold the auction. There are no fees on properties that do not sell. The buyer also pays a $35 fee on the deposit and per parcel on settlement/payment processing.

The county originally planned to have an in-person auction but discussion over a 10% fee led the county to move to online only. Wadena County Auditor Heather Olson said they could only do one of the other, not both. Olson said she had no problem helping people in need of assistance in the online process.

The added benefit to the county is that these tax forfeited properties, if sold, will be back on the tax rolls, bringing in money soon after the transfer of ownership. Kangas said when added up there was over $1 million in property value represented in this sale.


The auction timeline includes information about these parcels going public five to six weeks before the auction start date, according to Bid4Assets. An exact date of the auction was not yet known as details were still to be worked out.

Commissioners weighed in on the auction. Commissioner Jon Kangas was happy to see the online option available and was hopeful that the auction end times would be staggered to allow bidders time to take part in multiple sales. It was unclear if that was the case. He also wished to see some parcels' minimum bids lowered as he believed some parcels were not as valuable as the 25% of assessed value.

“Sometimes the assessors have values on these properties for a house that really needs to be demolished, so it’s actually worth less money when you factor in cost to demolish,” Kangas said.

Commissioner Murlyn Kreklau did not want to see an across the board cut to minimum bids. Commissioner Bill Stearns said they were avoiding looking at each property to determine lower minimum bids as that would be a time consuming process. Olson said reevaluating the property values at this point would push back the date of this sale further.

Stearns recommended the county buy large display ads in county newspapers to explain in detail how this auction will work closer to the date of the auction. It’s likely the information would also be shared on the county website and social media.

Stearns also indicated that the city of Wadena has shown interest in buying some parcels on the list. He said of those parcels it is planned that at least one property in a commercial district would be sold to a commercial business.

He wanted to make clear that there are no taxes due on these tax forfeited parcels. There may be special assessments on some.

Olson said if this process goes well, she would like to see this auction happen each year.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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