How to Find Tax Deed Properties From the County

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Tax deed properties are sold throughout the United States. Counties sell tax deed properties after homeowners fail to pay their property taxes. Investors purchase tax deeds with the goal of making profits by buying low and selling high. Both commercial and residential properties are sold under these circumstances; property conditions vary. Tax certificate or lien sales occur when counties sell tax debts. If you buy a tax certificate, you do not own the property unless the homeowner continues to not pay the property taxes and you foreclose.

Select the areas where you want to purchase properties. Counties normally publish 30-day notices about upcoming auctions in local papers. You can check the county treasurer’s website or register in a national database like foreclosure.com. Understand the specific county’s auction procedures, such as if the tax deed auctions are held monthly or annually. That information is often available at the county's website.

Assess the property, including whether it is vacant. You should study the property’s title history and condition, such as by driving past the property. If you live far away, hire a local agent. Find out whether any liens are outstanding, such as a contractor’s lien or child support lien.

Determine the amount of money that you can spend. Auctions usually are fast-paced, so you might spend lots of money without realizing it. Make sure that you have necessary funds, as you must immediately pay the bid or a deposit.

Place the highest bid--though most counties require you to register before you can make a bid. Depending on the county, you can bid electronically or in person. Some places also accept pre-bids before the auction starts.

Enter and inspect the property. Most counties notify the former property owner. You might find the property in excellent condition or you might have to invest money, such as by hiring a junk removal service.

Tips & Warnings

  • After you receive your tax deed, there might be additional requirements before you have a marketable title--that is, free from defect. Consult with an accountant and local attorney for additional help about the legal and tax exposure.
  • Most counties charge fees based on the winning bid. You might have to pay an extra 2 percent to 5 percent of the bid amount to the county.

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