Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tax Deed Investing on Steroids Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on tax deed investing, I introduced you to a strategy for cashing in on tax deeds without even going to the tax sale. In this article I’d like to answer some questions that you may have about the excess proceeds strategy that I introduced you to in Part 1. About a year ago, I did a very informative teleseminar interview with tax deed and real estate investing expert Cody Matousek. Cody divulged the “little known secret” of tax deed investing know as “excess proceeds.”

This seminar entitled “Cashing in on Tax Deeds Without Going to the Sale,” was the most popular teleseminar that I had by far. In fact we had over 200 people sign up for this call! Everyone was so excited about this little known method for making money on Tax Deed properties – without actually owning the property, at least, not for very long, that I got a lot of questions as well as some great testimonials regarding the teleseminar with Cody. Following are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions that we got about this seminar. You can find out more about this “secret” investing strategy at

Q1: How does it affect your credit if you buy a tax delinquent property and then let it go to tax sale (i.e. you don’t satisfy the delinquent taxes on the property)?

A: This depends on the state and county. Remember that the excess proceeds strategy does not work in every state. In most states property tax delinquencies, and foreclosures, are not reported to the credit bureaus. The counties simply to not have the wherewithal to report hundreds or thousands of delinquent property owners every year. You may want to check this out before you use this strategy. Just call the county tax collector and ask what happens if you’re delinquent with your taxes and your property is sold in a tax sale – do they report it to a credit bureau?

Letting a property that you own go to tax sale may affect your ability to purchase any other properties in that sale, however. In most tax deed sales, you have to sign an affidavit stating that you do not owe any property taxes in that county when you purchase a tax deed at the sale.

Q2: What about liens and judgments on tax delinquent properties? If you purchase a property before the sale from the owner, are you responsible for them?

A: Yes, you are responsible for any liens or judgments on a property that you purchase from the owner before the tax sale. If there is a mortgage on the property, for example, and you purchase it from the owner before the sale, you can be held responsible to pay that mortgage. You should do a title search on a property before you purchase it and stay away from properties that have mortgages or other liens on them.

Q3: How do you do a title search on a tax delinquent property? Do you have to hire a title company and get title insurance?

A: Although you should do a title search to find out if there are any liens or encumbrances on the property, you do not necessarily need to pay a title company to do this for you. Since you do not intend to hold on to the property and sell it, you do not need title insurance. You can either hire a title abstractor (these are the people who actually do the work for the title company) to search the title for you, or you can do it yourself. You search the title by going to the county Hall of Records (or where-ever the records are kept) and searching on the name of the owner or owners of the property. Any liens or judgments recorded in their name would attach to the property that they own.

Q4: Why would a person practically give their property away to someone they don’t even know?

A: Great question, and if this didn’t happen than this whole system of buying tax deed properties for pennies on the dollar – before the tax sale wouldn’t work. There are many reasons why someone would give you their property for little consideration. Remember you are looking for people that are just going to let their property go to tax sale anyway. They have already decided that they don’t want the property anymore, for whatever reason, and are willing to give it up. They don’t think (or they don’t know) that they can get anything for their property and you are going to offer them something for the trouble of signing over the deed. In many cases they have already left the property and it’s vacant, or they are living in another state and don’t want to be bothered with it anymore.

Q6: How do I find the owners of the property if county can’t find them to deliver the tax bill?

A: Look in the Tax Foreclosure Fortunes Manual for some links to free sites where you can look up hard to find people. There is also a reference to low cost service that you can pay for if the free sites don’t work.

Q7: Which states can I do this in?

A: Only deed states that award the excess proceeds to the owner of record of the property at the time of the tax sale. Keep in mind that you have be the owner of record at the time of the sale, which means that the deed needs to be recorded a couple of weeks before the tax sale. This can be difficult if the tax sale list is not published until 4 weeks before the tax sale. Another way to do this more efficiently is to use the delinquent tax role instead of the tax sale list. You can get the delinquent tax role at any time – not just before the tax sale, but you may have to pay the county to get it. Also you need to contact the right person to get this list.

Q8: How do I get the excess proceeds once the property is sold at the tax sale?

A: Some states will notify you of the excess proceeds and tell you what you have to do to collect it. In other states you may have to request the excess proceeds. It is helpful if you talk to someone at the county tax office before using this method of investing to find out what happens to the excess proceeds and what the owner of a property needs to do in order to collect them.

Q9: Can the owner of record on a tax delinquent property collect the excess proceeds even if there is a mortgage or lien on the property?

A: Each state handles this differently. Some states will notify the owner and all the lien holders of the excess proceeds. Some states give the lien holders the first right to the excess proceeds, and then if it isn’t claimed in a certain amount of time the owner can request it. Other states will give the owner the first right to the excess proceeds. Again, you can check with the tax collectors office before you use this strategy in any given state to find out what the rules are. You can also do your due diligence a head of time to make sure that there are no mortgages or liens on the property before you purchase it from the owner.

Monday, March 23, 2009

California Tax Deed Sales

I recently received an e-mail from a subscriber in California. He had paid to get a tax sale list for one of the counties in California. He got the list from the county, but it came too late for him to do his due diligence on any of the properties in the tax sale. His question to me was “where can I get the tax sale lists in time to do due diligence.” I happened to get his question as I was getting ready to go to San Francisco for personal reasons, but since I knew that there were a couple of tax sales coming up in that area, I decided to check out a couple of the California deed sales myself. In this article I’m going to let you in on the tools that I used to find out about tax sales in California.

First of all for those of you who are not familiar with tax sales in California, California is a deed state and many counties have online sales. Most of the online sales in California are conducted by Bid4Assets. You can sign up for free at to get notified of upcoming online tax sales. Many of these tax sales do require that you put down a large deposit ($5000) in order to bid, but they do give you access to the list of properties even if you are not a registered bidder.

Some counties do a great job of providing the list of properties in the sale and property information, and some counties do not. The information given can vary greatly by county. Some counties will only provide the tax number of the property, a legal description, (which is impossible to decipher unless you’re a surveyor), and the minimum bid amount. Other counties will give you the address of the property and tell you what type of property it is and even tell you about any other liens, thus saving you a lot of time in doing your due diligence. Some counties will even provide pictures of the properties.

So what do you do when you find that the list only has minimal information and does not even give you the property address? There are two things that you can do when you find that the list that you get for free online does not supply all the information that you need. The first option is free, but will cost you your time, and is a bit tedious. Usually there is a link provided on the Bid4Assets web site to look up the assessment information. But you have to type the property ID number in for each property on the list and look each one up separately, and then transfer the information to a spreadsheet in order to keep track of it. I tried this for one of the counties and gave up after it took me an hour to research about 15 properties.

The second option will cost you some money but save you a lot of time. You can go to and purchase a detailed list, which most of the time will have all the information you need for the tax sale properties. There is one more option that I haven’t tried yet, but it may work for tax sales that are not held online. You could call the County Treasurer and ask if they have the information available either online or on a CD, and ask them if it includes the property owner’s name, and the address of the property. Those are the most important thinks that you need in order to do your due diligence.

Investing in Tax Liens: What if I’m in a Deed State?

Frequently I get asked this question: “I really want to start investing in tax liens, but I live in a deed state. Should I look into investing in tax liens in another state, or try to invest in tax deeds in my own state.” In this article I’ll give you what I recommend for investors want to invest in tax liens, but find that in their state they only sell tax deeds. It’s not a one-size fits all answer, it really depends on what your goals are and on your particular state.

You really have two options, either find a way to invest profitably in your state, or look at some of the online tax lien sales, you may even want to do both. First, find out what goes on in your state. Are there many deed sales? How often are the tax sales? How many properties are available and how competitive are they? You will actually have to go to some tax sales and see what they are like.

Some states just don’t have very much available, if that’s the case, you may want to try the online tax lien sales. Other states may be very competitive and properties may get bid close to market value. If that’s the case there is still a way that you may be able to profit from tax deed sales in your state. Some counties give the excess proceeds – that’s the amount that’s bid in excess of the minimum bid amount, back to the owner of the property.

Here’s how the excess proceeds strategy works in a nutshell. Instead of waiting for the tax sale you contact the owner of the property before the sale and see if they are going to let their property go for back taxes. If they have already decided to walk away from the property, perhaps they would be willing to give you a quitclaim deed to their property for a small fee. You record the deed with the county clerk a few weeks before the tax sale. Let the property go tax sale and after it is sold you apply for the excess proceeds.

This strategy only works in a few deed states that give the excess proceeds back to the owner of the property – not all deed states do this. So before you try this strategy check with the county tax collector or county treasurer and make sure that the owner of record of the tax delinquent property can apply for the excess proceeds from the sale. Also you do have to check for any other liens, since you are buying the property from the owner and not purchasing the deed at the tax sale, you will be held responsible for any other liens on the property.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tax Lien Investing: How I Got Started

Nine years ago my husband and I sold our 2 bedroom condo thinking that we were going to rent for a while until we were able to find a three bedroom home for our growing family (we had three young boys). We were unable to find a place to rent or buy in the county that we lived in. We moved almost an hour away to a small 2 bedroom apartment in the town that I grew up in. The housing market was just starting to take off and for the next 4 years we looked for a home that we could afford in three different counties in NJ and were unsuccessful.

Because we couldn’t find a house to buy that we wanted to live in, we decided that we would look into purchasing real estate for an investment. The problem was that rents had not rose at the same rate as selling prices of houses, so if you had to purchase an investment property and get financing, the rent that you collected would not be able to cover the mortgage payments. Still I thought that real estate investing was the fastest way to build wealth. So I thought that we should try buying foreclosed houses or pre-foreclosures.

The real estate market was booming at this time and investors were paying close to market price for foreclosures because the market was rising so fast. At the foreclosure sales that I went to, small distressed houses sold for over $300,000, and that was out of my price range. Also at these sales you needed to have 20% of the bid price in certified funds on the day of the sale and the rest within 10 days. Since we found ourselves locked out of the real estate market, I wanted to do something with the little bit of money that we had left from the sale of our condominium to invest for our future. I had heard about tax lien investing, and I thought that was something that I might be able to do.

I started going to tax sales in NJ, the state that I lived in at the time. The problem was that I could not find any information about how to invest in tax liens in my state. At that time there was just one book in print about tax lien investing and it didn’t contain any specific information about my state. What information that I could find was very general. So I started going to tax sales and doing some research to find out more. I met someone else that was trying to do the same thing I was, only on a much larger scale, so we teamed up and helped each other.

We learned the tax lien investing business in NJ, and for a while I worked for my partner, building a sizable tax lien portfolio for him while I was building a smaller portfolio for myself. I hired a handful of people to help me and trained them on how to do due diligence for tax sale properties and bid at the sale. We even developed our own software to track our investments and automate a lot of the work.

Meanwhile I realized that there were a lot of people out there like me who wanted to learn about tax lien investing, but didn’t know where to turn. I started my web site,, to answer questions about how to get started investing in tax liens. I researched tax lien and tax deed investing in every state and wrote a couple of e-books, which I sold through my web site. Then I started doing teleseminars, and interviewing experts in different states on aspects of tax lien and tax deed investing. I wrote step-by-step home study courses on tax lien and tax deed investing, and began doing live seminars for local investing groups.

Now I have multiple home study courses, web sites, and blogs for tax lien and tax deed investing. I have a tax lien investing podcast on iTunes, Videos on YouTube, and articles on tax lien and tax deed investing that appear all over the internet. My goal through all these mediums is to give you the truth about tax lien investing, without the hype, and to help you build your own profitable portfolio of tax liens or tax deeds. If you’d like to find out more about how you can get started investing in real estate secured tax lien certificates, or buying properties for pennies on the dollar with tax deeds, you can get my free report “7 Steps to Building Your Profitable Tax Lien Portfolio” at

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What’s Wrong with Tax Deed Investing?

You may have heard that tax deed investing is a great way to purchase properties for back taxes. But here are the reasons why it doesn’t always work out that way. First of all these tax sales are competitive and though the bidding for tax sale properties may start at the back taxes owed, any property with a house on it is bid up at the sale, sometimes close to market value. Then what makes it even more difficult for the average person to buy a home at a tax sale is that in most counties is, you need to have the full bid amount, in certified funds on the day of the tax sale or the day after the tax sale. That means that you have to have all of your cash on the day of the sale. You do not have time to get financing. So what is a person in one of these competitive deed states to do? How can you buy tax sale properties for pennies on dollar in one of these states?

There are ways that you can purchase tax sale properties for pennies on the dollar, but not buy going to the tax sale. You can avoid the competition at the tax sale in tax deed states by contacting the owners of these properties before they are sold in the tax sale. You can do this by finding vacant properties that are on the tax sale list that have out of state owners and by contacting the owners of these properties. What you are looking for are property owners who have already decided, for whatever reason that they no longer want the property, and were prepared to let it go at the tax sale. Then you can offer them a small consideration for deeding the property to you before the tax sale. In this way you can pick up vacant properties for less than what they would sell for at the tax sale.

But why would someone just handover a quitclaim deed to their property to you? There are many reasons why someone would do this. There are many reasons why a person would do this. Here are just a few: Divorce or other life changes, loss of a job, or relocation to another area of the country. It is important to check for other liens on the property before you do this because since you are purchasing the property directly from the owner, you would be responsible for any liens, judgments, or mortgages they may be on the property. So check that out first.

Did you know that there is a little known secret about tax deeds that you can do in some states that will let you cash in on tax deed properties without going to the tax sale? You can find out all about it in my free Tax Foreclosure Fortunes mini-course. Get your copy at