Chris Janda put down $26 Tuesday to buy an empty lot in Red Bank.
Janda, who bid $260 for the property in the 700 block of Lupton Drive, said he was hoping to teach his 8-year-old son Caleb about investing.
"Basically, my kid has about $200 in his piggy bank and we were going to partner as an investment lesson for him," Janda said.
Caleb was so excited about the deal, he asked his dad to pick him up from school Tuesday so he could find out if they'd won.
Janda bid on the parcel in Hamilton County's annual real property sale, which tries to dispose of land that has lingered on the back tax rolls. Properties must clear the county trustee's sale and cannot be transferred for a year, during which the owner can pay the back taxes and reclaim the property.
This year's sale drew 444 bids, said Paul Parker, the county's real property manager. About 90 properties, with minimum bids ranging from a few hundred dollars to $2,500, were up for sale.
And the Hamilton County Commission's meeting room -- where the sale took place -- was standing room only.
The number of bids increased this year.
"Last year, we received only about 100 bids," Parker said.
Institutions such as the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum are at the sale almost annually. Museum President Tim Andrews entered the highest bid on at least two lots.
"They're adjacent to our property in East Chattanooga," he said. "We've been doing this for close to 30 years."
Though Janda and Andrews were highest bidders, the lots won't be theirs until after March 20.
On Feb. 27, the real property office will publish the list of high bidders, then members of the public have 10 days to file a letter of intent to bid, with a bid-off scheduled for March 20 at 10 a.m. for contested parcels.
High bidders who ultimately lose on March 20 will receive a refund of their down payment plus interest.
Though Janda said he and his son won't get their hopes up until March 20, the Red bank lot would help build the boy's character.
"He could go over there and cut the grass," Janda said.
Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...