Monday, March 23, 2009

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.

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