Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tax Deed Investing: Don’t Wait for the Leftovers

I recently went to the Monroe County Judicial tax sale in Pennsylvania. I didn’t actually go to the sale. I came in after the sale to see what was left over. When the sale is over the county gives everyone an hour or so to go to the bank and get the funds to pay for the properties that they bid on. All payment has to be in certified funds or money order, no cash and no personal checks are accepted.

When the time limit is up, the county will re-bid any properties that weren’t paid for along with any properties that didn’t sell in the morning auction. I went to this sale to see if there were any decent properties left over at the end of this final auction. What ever does not sell at this auction goes onto the “repository” list and is sold by private bid. When you buy a property from the repository list, you do not need to clear the title, since the county has taken the property. This can save you some money, since to do a quiet title process with an attorney would cost about $750.00.

There were not many properties in this sale, only 9 properties that were bid, but hadn’t been paid for and 16 that were not sold in the morning auction. Half of these properties were sold in the second auction. The only properties that didn’t sell were either undesirable lots or trailers. Trailers are not worth purchasing at a tax sale because you are only given the deed to the trailer, not to the property that the trailer is on. You will either have to pay rent to whoever owns the land or move the trailer. Undesirable land is also not worth purchasing because you can’t build on it, but you would still have to pay the taxes and any homeowner association fees if it’s in a community.

Basically there was nothing left of any value after the tax sale, so next year I will go to the sale and plan on spending an extra $750 to clear the title on anything that I might purchase. I often get inquiries from people who want to invest in tax liens or tax deeds, but they don’t want to attend the tax sale. They either want to invest long distance, where traveling to the sale is not practical, or they just don’t have the time to go to the sale. They want to know if they can buy liens or deeds through the mail from the leftover tax sale list. This may work in some states where counties have thousands of liens available, but it doesn’t work very well for deeds here in Pennsylvania.

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