This is the seventh article in a series of eight articles about how to build a profitable portfolio of tax lien certificates or tax deeds. If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can read them at www.taxlienconsulting.blogspot.com.
OK, so you’ve got the tax sale list and you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve made your preparations to go to the tax sale. You’ve registered for the sale, you have your paperwork in order and you’ve made arrangements to have the proper form of payment at the sale. Since most tax sales are auctions, the next step to building your profitable tax lien portfolio is to bid at the sale.
Before you bid at a tax sale you need to know what the bidding procedure is and what your strategy will be. You'll have to decide beforehand just how much you are willing to pay for each property that you want to bid on, or how low (in interest) you will bid. I suggest that you attend at least one tax sale before you bid so that you are aware of what is actually being bid and what the competition is like. It’s important to know exactly what you are bidding.
There are four basic types of bidding procedures that you will encounter at a tax sale. At tax lien sales, typically the interest is bid down, or the interest is not bid down and the price of the lien is bid up. This is referred to in the tax lien industry as “premium” or “overbid.” Different states may refer to it differently and they treat it differently. In some states the amount bid is only the premium or overbid amount, and the total price of the lien will be what was bid plus the lien amount. Other states will start the bidding at the lien amount so that the bid price includes the lien amount. Some states do not bid down the interest or bid up the price of the lien. They may use another bidding process in which the percent ownership in the property (should the property be foreclosed) is bid down. In this process it is the bidder willing to receive the lowest percent ownership in the property that wins the bid. Another bid process that is used in some states is random selection or a round robin bidding process. For both of these bidding procedures, the interest rate is not bid down and the price is not bid up; they remain constant. In counties that use the random selection process, a bid is randomly selected among the registered bidders at the sale. In counties that use the round robin procedure, the tax collector will go around the room in a specific order, offering the next tax lien to the next registered bidder in line. The bidder can either accept or refuse the lien; but if the lien is refused, another won’t be offered until his or her turn comes up again.
The procedure used for most deeds sales is the premium bid method. What differs among most tax deed states is the starting bid amount. In some states the starting bid will be the back taxes owed plus any penalties. Some states may start the bidding at a percentage of the assessed value of the property, and a couple of states will start the bidding at the market value of the property. You can see why it’s important to be familiar with the bidding process and what is being bid before you actually start bidding on tax sale properties! Also, you will want to be aware of other costs involved besides the amount you bid. When purchasing a tax deed, there will be other costs involved, not just the amount that you bid. There may be a realty transfer fee and a recording fee. Know what these fees are ahead of time and be prepared.