Monday, November 24, 2008

Now is the Time to Act: Part II

This is the second article in a two part series about what I think are two really good opportunities right now to get involved in real estate investing. In the first article I talked about why I think that this is a real good time to get started in tax lien investing, and in this article I want to discus what I think is another good opportunity right now in real estate – buying property at an auction. If you missed Part I in this series you can read it at

If you have more cash available and can qualify for a mortgage, another great opportunity in today’s market is purchasing property at real estate auctions. In some states it’s common for homes to be sold at auction instead of being listed with a real estate agent. Typically this is done for estate sales, when the property has to be sold in order to pay off debts for an estate and distribute what is left to the heirs. Many times the heirs do not want to wait out the process of listing the property with a realtor, or they may have already tried that and were unable to sell the property and now the estate has to be closed, so they hire an auction company to sell the property to the highest bidder.

In good times when the real estate market is strong, auction prices can be quite high. But in times when the real estate market is weak and loans are harder to get, there are not as many bidders at these auctions. Many investors find themselves holding too many properties and not enough cash. It’s also harder for them to refinance and take cash out of the properties that they own for the purpose of investing. If you have the cash you can get some great buys. It’s just a matter of being at the right place at the right time, and being prepared.

Just a week ago we were able to purchase a property at a real estate auction for quite a bit less than it’s appraised value. We didn’t even expect to buy this property, but we went to the auction prepared to bid. I did my due diligence on this property and had a bank check made out to the auction company in the required amount for the down payment. The auction happened to be on a miserably cold and rainy day. There were quite a few people there for the personal property but when it came time to bid on the real estate, not many were there with the required funds. Since the bidding started at a price that was less than half of what I had determined the house was worth, we went ahead and bid. There was only one other person bidding against us and he stopped bidding well below what we had determined would be good price for the property, where we could make a very nice profit on a lease option. We wound up purchasing the property for $70,000 less than what we had determined as market price.

The upside of buying property this way is that you can get a great deal, the downside is that you do not get to control the deal at all. You purchase the house “as is” and cannot negotiate anything that might need to be fixed. There is no buyer’s disclosure letting you know about any problems that may be there. You need to do a thorough inspection of the property before you bid. But many times these homes are well taken care off and the auctioneers do provide times that you can inspect the property before the sale, usually a few days before the auction.

Another thing that may be a problem is that you sign a contract at the auction to purchase the property in a given time frame and there are no contingencies. If you can’t get a loan for the remainder of the purchase price in the time given, you could loose your down payment. One solution to this problem is to line up your financing ahead of time so that you are confident that you’ll be able to close on time.

Another thing that you may want to consider is that there are different types of auctions. Some auctions have a reserve price and some are absolute auctions. In a reserve auction, the property will not be sold unless a reserve (minimum) price is met. I’ve been at a real estate auction where the highest bidder did not get the property because the reserve price was not met. At an absolute auction there is no reserve price and the property is sold to the highest bidder. In my opinion your best chance to get a good deal is at an absolute action. The auction that we went to last week was an absolute auction; hence we were able to sign a contract to purchase the property at a very low price.

If this is something that you think you might want to pursue, start checking your local newspaper for estate auctions. Then go to a few sales and see how they are conducted. Go to sales from different auction companies to see how they are run. Some auction companies are better than others. Make sure that they will guarantee insurable title on the property that they are selling at auction. If you have difficulty finding any real estate auctions in your area, or in your state, and you still want to invest than send an e-mail to me at I believe that even better buys than the one that I got will be coming up in my area and I’m looking for investors to partner with.

Now is the Time to Act: Part I

Now is a great time to jump on money making opportunities in real estate and tax lien certificates. In economic downturns like we’re in right now, many investors run out of investment capital. They may have lost money in other investments – like the stock market or mutual funds, and have to pull back from investing in real estate, just when it’s the perfect time to buy. That means less competition and more opportunity for you. I’m seeing some great opportunities right now in tax lien investing and in purchasing real estate at auctions. In Part I of this series I’ll discuss why I think this is a perfect time to get started in tax lien investing and in Part II of this series I’ll talk about why real estate auctions are a great opportunity for investors that have more cash available.

Now is the time to go to tax sales. I just bought three new tax liens at a tax sale last week. All three were purchased at 18%. A couple weeks earlier I had purchased three liens as well, two at 10% and one at 18%. And I’ve been hearing from clients that have been successful at tax lien sales as well. Now this might not sound like much to you, but I invest in New Jersey, where the municipality conducts tax sales, not the county. This means that there are more tax sales, but fewer properties in each sale, and you have to attend a few tax sales just to put together a small portfolio of tax liens. It’s not like other areas of the country where there are county sales with hundreds, sometimes thousands of liens available. In many of the tax sales that I attend there are more bidders than there are properties in the sale. I’m seeing a change in that trend, where now there are less bidders showing up to the tax sales and more properties available. It’s a sign of the times.

When tax lien investors run out of money, they stop paying the subsequent taxes on their liens and those properties wind up in the tax sale the following year. I am finding that a couple of investors who used to be regulars at these sales are no longer there. They are not paying the subsequent taxes on the liens that they purchased last year, and they are not showing up at the tax sale to bid on them. I was able to pick up a lien at the last sale that I went to that was someone else’s prior lien. I was able to pay the subsequent taxes on that lien as well, and get the maximum interest rate on my subs (18%). Usually I don’t recommend purchasing tax lien certificates that have prior tax liens on them. But if the prior lien holder does not show up at the tax sale, then I will go ahead and purchase the lien if I’ve done my due diligence on the property. If the prior lien-holder does foreclose on the lien, your lien remains on the property (if they don’t redeem it) and you can foreclose as well when the redemption period on your lien is over.

If you’re not sure how to get started in tax lien investing, you can learn the basics with my Tax Lien Investing Basics home study course. This course will teach you the basics of tax lien investing and show you where to get the tax sale information. You can find out more at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tax Deed Investing: A Better Way to Purchase Tax Delinquent Properties for Pennies on the Dollar, Part 3

This is the 3rd article in a series about Jack Bosch’s Land for Pennies system of buying tax delinquent properties for pennies on the dollar. In the first article I introduced you to Jack Bosch and told you about his background and in the second article I told you about his program and how it’s different from tax lien and tax deed investing. In this last part of the series I’ll give you a summary of the steps that Jack used to make a fortune buying and selling tax delinquent properties.

Step number one, to buying tax delinquent properties for pennies on the dollar, is to get the delinquent tax roll from the county tax collector. This is not the same as the delinquent property list that is published before the tax sale. This list is never published. This is the list that the tax collector uses to contact delinquent taxpayers in order to collect the taxes and to notify them of their delinquency. Sometimes they will make this list available to you (for a fee) and sometimes they will not even know what you are talking about. In Jack’s course he gives detailed information on how to get this list and what form you need to have it in. It doesn’t do you much good for example to get this list as a print out. You need it in a specific digital format.

Step number two, to buying tax delinquent properties for pennies on the dollar, is to filter this list so that you have just the properties that you want. Jack has a method for filtering the list to give him a greater response rate. He is looking for certain properties, so he filters the list to find the properties that he is looking for. In his Land Profits Formula he tells you just how to do that. Also you will need to un-duplicate the list. You may have multiple properties with the same owner and you only want to send one letter to each delinquent taxpayer on the list.

The third step in the process is to send out letters to each of the property owners on your list. Jack’s Land Profits Formula tells you exactly what to do. Jack even tells you what kind of paper and envelopes to use and how to address the envelopes to have a better chance of getting your letters read. He also tells you when the best time to mail them is. And he provides some different sample letters that have worked for him. Once you send out the letters, you just sit back and wait for people to call you about their properties.

Your fourth step is to take the information from your prospects when they call. Jack gives you forms and software for keeping tract of these calls in his program. He even gives you a script of exactly what to say to prospects when they call. There’s no thinking involved, you just follow Jack’s formula for success.

Your next step is to make an offer. You’re going to take a look at the information that you collected from the homeowner and verify it. You need to know what the property is worth. To do this you’ll need to know the assessment information. You’ll also want to do your own title search to make sure that there are no liens or judgments on the property which could cloud the title. Jack tells you how to do that in his Land Profits Formula. Then you’ll decide how much you want to pay for the property and send a written offer to the prospect. Once the offer is accepted you’ll complete a contract and close the deal. Jack provides some different contracts that you can use and discusses different ways to close the deal in his course.

I have simplified Jack’s program for you in this short article, he goes over everything in detail in his Land for Profits Formula. Find out more about Jack Bosch’s Land for Profits formula at .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Five Mistakes New Investors Make When Buying Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Deeds

Here are some mistakes that can lower your rate of return in your tax lien or tax deed portfolio. These are mistakes that I, or one of my clients, or another investor that I know, has made in the process of investing of tax liens or tax deeds. I’m sharing them with you so that you do not make the same mistakes that we did when we were just beginning to invest in tax lien certificates and/or tax deeds. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes.

Mistake#1: Doing your due diligence too soon before the tax sale.

New investors are always eager to get started. They frequently want to start researching the tax sale properties right away, as soon as they can get the tax sale list. I also made this mistake when I first started; until I realized that I was wasting my time doing due diligence on properties that were never going to be sold at the tax sale. People can pay their taxes and remove their property from the tax sale list, sometime up until right before the tax sale. In my experience, at least half of the properties that are on the original tax sale list will not be there on the day of the sale. So if you start your due diligence early, many of the properties that you research will not be sold at the tax sale and you’ll be wasting your time. I’ve learned to wait until a few days before the tax sale and get an updated list from the tax collector, so that I’m only doing due diligence on the properties that are still on the list a couple of days before the tax sale. Of course if you’re going to a very large sale, you might need a week to do your due diligence, but you shouldn’t need longer than that.

Mistake #2: Not doing due diligence on tax sale properties.

For tax liens this may be as simple as looking at the assessment information on the property and driving by the property to take a look at it. I myself have made the error of bidding on a tax lien on the assessment information alone and not actually looking at the property. Last time I did this, I wound up with a shack that was falling apart, and it was right next to a stream. It looked like if the stream flooded it would be washed away. Because everything around it was overgrown and it was hard to see from the road, I had a real hard time finding it. But the problem was I didn’t go look at it until after I had bought the lien. I should have looked at it before I bid.

Mistake #3: Not knowing the rules of the tax sale.

Since every state, and in some states each county, has different rules regarding their tax sales, you need to know what they are ahead of time. I got an e-mail from a subscriber who had purchased a tax deed at an “upset” tax sale in Pennsylvania. Later he found out that there was a $200,000 mortgage on the property that he was responsible for. He didn’t do his due diligence on the property, so he didn’t know about the lien. He thought that he was buying a deed to vacant land and he didn’t know that a new home had been built on the property, and that there was a mortgage on it. So his first mistake was not doing the proper due diligence for a tax deed property.

But he also didn’t know that when you purchase a deed in the upset sale you are responsible for any liens or judgments on the property. Many counties in Pennsylvania have two different tax sales. The upset tax sale is held in the fall and the properties in that sale are sold subject to any liens or judgments on the property. Then if a property is not sold in this sale it goes to the judicial sale in the spring. The properties in the judicial sale are sold free and clear of any liens or judgments, so there is a big difference between purchasing a tax deed in the upset sale and purchasing a tax deed in the judicial sale. Know the rules of the tax sale that you are bidding at!

Mistake #4: Not knowing what you are bidding at the sale.

I was at a tax sale in New Jersey where a new investor was bidding on some small utility liens. In NJ the interest rate is bid down and then premium is bid on tax liens. She bid large premium (a few hundred dollars) on a small sewer lien, which she won. When I talked to her after the sale, I realized that she did not understand how premiums in NJ work. You do not get any interest on the premium or on the certificate amount. She was not aware that she was not going to get any interest on the amount that she bid at the sale.

The reason that other investors were bidding big premiums on larger liens is because once they have the lien, they can pay the subsequent taxes and get the maximum rate (18%) on their subs. With small sewer liens, like the one that she got, the subsequent taxes that you get to pay are small, usually no more than $500 per year and you only get 8% on the first $1500. Although she didn’t loose any money, she was going to make very little on this tax lien!

Mistake #5: Not starting foreclosure at the right time.

In some states you are only given a certain time frame where you have to foreclose the lien if it does not redeem, or you loose your investment. If you don’t start the foreclosure proceedings as soon as the redemption period is over, you could loose your lien. But in other states, where you don’t have to foreclose right away, you are better off letting your lien go longer for 2 reasons. The first reason is that 99% of the time, when you start the foreclosure process the lien will redeem. The second reason is that the longer you hold the lien and pay the subsequent taxes, the more money you will make. Of course this only works in states were you could pay the subsequent taxes and get interest on your subs.