Following nearly $400,000 in sales at its first of three tax-forfeited land auctions in 2020, St. Louis County was declaring success Thursday.

Of the 65 properties offered, 27 were purchased for a total of $397,575 during a live auction at the AAD Shrine Meeting and Event Center in Hermantown.

The 41% sales rate is the highest percentage of tracts purchased at an auction in recent memory, a St. Louis County news release said.

Properties purchased included two houses in Duluth and one in Angora Township. Additionally, eight of the properties purchased were formerly blighted parcels, which had to be cleaned up and structures removed to make way for new development.

All parcels not purchased at the auction are now available for sale on a first-come, first-served basis through the St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department. There are nearly 200 properties currently available for sale. The list of those properties, along with results from Thursday's auction, can be found on the county's website.

Earlier this week, the first round of bidding closed on a slate of properties offered for sale through online auction. Four of the 18 properties sold for a total of $60,000. The remaining properties are now being re-offered for sale in an online marketplace.

The 18 properties had been approved for sale online as a pilot program. The county has not yet decided whether to offer additional tax forfeited properties for sale online.

St. Louis County will offer two additional live auctions of tax-forfeited properties later this year. The next auction will be held June 11.

Within St. Louis County, there are nearly 900,000 acres of tax-forfeited land, which the county's Land and Minerals Department is responsible for managing. Most of the land is maintained for forest management, however, the county is working to sell parcels not planned for management as a way to encourage development and increase the property tax base.

For more information and email subscriptions about tax-forfeited land sales, visit stlouiscountymn.gov/landsales or call the Land and Minerals Department at 218-726-2606.