Monday, March 12, 2007

What You Need to Know About Tax Sale Lists

One of the first things that you have to do in order to buy profitable tax liens or tax deeds is to get the tax sale list. Usually you can get the tax sale list for free from the county or municipality. Sometimes you can even find the tax sale list online on the county treasurer’s or tax collector’s web site along with information about the sale and information on how to register for the sale.

Unfortunately this list does not always have the information that you need to do your due diligence on the properties. Most of the time this list does not even include the property address. It usually does include the property tax ID number, the amount owed, and the owner of record; some lists may include the annual taxes. Some pertinent information that is usually not on this list will help you to do your due diligence on the properties is: The address of the property; the property classification – is it a farm, residential, commercial, or raw land; the type property – how it is zoned; the property assessment and annual taxes; the last sale price of the property; and mortgage information.

You can get all of this information if you buy a detailed list from a tax sale list provider. I find that tax sale list providers that specialize in one state or area of the country do the best job of providing timely and meaningful lists. They are sometimes more thorough, since they are covering a smaller area, and they are more knowledgeable about the information that they provide. I’ve seen national providers frequently leave out one or two counties in a state or only list it when it’s to late to do proper due diligence for the sale. Two of the smaller list providers that I recommend are – for New Jersey, Nassau County NY, Washington DC, and Florida; and for Arizona. For most other states you may be able to get the list online in excel format and then cross reference the parcel or tax ID number with the assessment data that you may also be able to find online. When you can’t find this information online – on the county tax collector’s or county treasurer’s web site, you may have no choice but to buy your list from a national tax sale list provider. In this case you can try

On February 15, 2007 I interviewed Steve Davis of LienSource on “What You Need to Know About Tax Sale Lists.” In this interview Steve covered everything you have to do to be successful at buying tax liens and also how to decipher the tax sale lists for both tax liens and tax deeds, and what to do with the list once you’ve got it. For information on how you get the recording of this teleseminar go to

Purchasing Left Over Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Deeds

I get a lot of questions from subscribers to that want to know how they can purchase tax liens or tax deeds through the mail. They specifically want to know about left over tax liens and tax deeds. These are tax lien certificates or tax deeds that are “left-over” from the tax sale. In other words no one bid at them at the sale and they were struck of to the county, state, or municipality. In most states if the delinquent tax property is not sold at the tax sale, it is struck of to the county or municipality. A few states allow the assignment of tax lien certificates or tax deeds to investors. There are pros and cons to purchasing leftover or assignment liens or deeds from the county.

On the positive side, there is no competition; you don’t have to bid against other investors. For liens and redeemable deeds, you may be able to purchase a lien or deed in which the redemption period has already ended, or is close to being over, in which case you may wind up with the property. For some deed states, since the county, state, or municipality has already taken title to the property, you may not have to go through a title clearing process (quiet title or title certification process). You’ll have to check with the county to find this out.

On the negative side, leftovers are usually not worth bidding on in the first place and that’s why they were not sold at the sale. In smaller counties, and in states where the tax sales are conducted by the municipality (New Jersey, and the New England states) there is usually nothing worthwhile that is left over. To find leftover tax liens or deeds, you have to go to counties that have very large lists (a few thousand properties) to begin with. And you’ll have to sift through a lot of junk to find good properties.

Sometimes you can find a nugget of gold in the leftover tax sale list. I know a couple of tax lien investors in Arizona who do this regularly as well as a couple of tax deed investors (in Texas and Pennsylvania) who have done this. With more and more people becoming interested in tax lien and tax deed investing and going to the auctions, there are less leftovers available than there used to be. My advice is to use extreme caution and be extremely rigorous with your due diligence when purchasing leftover liens or deeds. I also believe that investing long distance in leftover liens or deeds is a mistake if you do not have someone that can physically look at the property for you.

If you would like to find out more about how to find that nugget of gold in the leftover tax sale list, this is the topic of Tax Lien Lady’s next teleseminar interview with Brendan Monahan of Arizona Tax Liens on March 15, 2007. To register for the teleseminar at no charge go to