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.

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