15-18-220. Sale at public auction -- notice of auction. (1) Upon receipt of an application for a tax deed pursuant to 15-18-219, the county treasurer shall hold a public auction in the county in which the property is located within 60 days of receipt of the application. The county treasurer shall publish notice of the auction as provided in 7-1-2121 that includes the date, time, and location of the auction, the legal description of the property, the deposit requirement, and the minimum opening bid. The auction must be held during the regular office hours of the county treasurer.
(2) (a) The opening bid on the property must be the amount required in subsection (2)(b), and the county treasurer may not accept a bid below the opening bid.
(b) The opening bid for the property is equal to the sum of:
(i) the amount required to redeem the tax lien, which includes delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and costs;
(ii) amounts paid by the assignee upon application for the tax deed pursuant to 15-18-219(2); and
(iii) an amount equal to half of the most recent assessed value of the land and of the dwelling or half of the value of the land and of the dwelling as determined in an independent appraisal. If the opening bid is based on an independent appraisal, the appraisal must be provided to the county treasurer, must meet the standards set by the Montana board of real estate appraisers, and must have been conducted within 6 months of the date of the auction.
(3) (a) The county treasurer shall sell the property to the high bidder for the purchase price bid. Except as provided in subsection (3)(b), the high bidder shall post with the county treasurer a nonrefundable deposit of 5% of the bid or $200, whichever is greater, at the time of sale. The deposit is applied to the sale price at the time of full payment. Notice of the deposit requirement must be posted at the auction site, and the county treasurer may require bidders to show their ability to post the deposit. The county treasurer may refuse to recognize the bid of a person who has previously bid and refused, for any reason, to honor the bid.
(b) If the tax deed applicant is the high bidder, the tax deed applicant shall pay to the county treasurer any amounts included in the opening bid and not already paid, including filing fees, tax deed fees, and one-half of the most recent assessed value of the land and of the dwelling. The amounts paid with the tax deed application must be subtracted from the deposit required in subsection (3)(a).
(c) If full payment of the purchase price and recording fees is not made within 24 hours of the sale, excluding weekends and legal holidays, the county treasurer shall cancel all bids, notice the auction as provided in subsection (5), and pay costs of the resale from the deposit. Any funds remaining from the deposit must be applied to the opening bid.
(d) The portion of the opening bid that is equal to half of the most recent assessed value of the land and of the dwelling is considered surplus funds and, upon sale of the property, must be distributed as provided in 15-18-221(3). If the purchase price is higher than the opening bid, the difference between the purchase price and the opening bid is considered surplus funds and must be distributed as provided in 15-18-221(3).
(5) If the sale is canceled for any reason or if the buyer fails to make full payment within the time required, the county treasurer shall, within 30 days after the buyer's nonpayment or cancellation of the sale, notice the sale as provided in subsection (1). The sale must be held within 30 days of the date of the notice. The opening bid provided for in subsection (2) must be increased by the cost of giving notice and additional county treasurer's fees.
(6) An auction required pursuant to this section may be conducted electronically.