How do you buy property in a tax lien sale?

| Apr 22, 2020 | Real Estate |

When a Georgia property owner neglects or is unable to pay their property taxes, the county tax commissioner may place the home, business or land up for sale to cover the debt.

Auctions are typically held at county courthouses on the first Tuesday of the month, where the highest bidder can purchase the lien. Original owners are allowed to keep the property if they can pay all penalties, interest and back taxes within a specified time.

What are the types of tax lien sales?

In Georgia, the length of time the original owners have to redeem the property depends upon the type of sale. There are two kinds:

  • Non-judicial: Under this type, the sheriff is ordered to sell the property, and the top bidder takes ownership, usually by paying the full amount by a cashier’s check, money order or cash. The original owner has one year to pay all back taxes and other costs.
  • Judicial: You can find these sales in the legal notice sections of local publications, usually under Judicial Hearings and Judicial Tax Sales. A petition is filed to auction the property with past-due taxes. Original owners have 60 days to pay off debts and keep the property.

Steps tax-lien buyers should take

Just as with any investment, there are steps you should follow when buying a tax-lien property, such as:

  • Research the property as much as possible at the county recorder and assessor offices, and be sure that a home still exists on the day of the auction
  • Make sure that the county or city followed all laws in placing a lien on the property
  • During the redemption period for the original owners, make sure all taxes and other financial obligations on the property are up to date
  • Send the original owner a notice at the end of the redemption period with a deadline to pay or lose all their rights to the property
  • Initiate title proceedings with the court to take free and clear ownership of the property

Protect your rights when bidding on a tax sale foreclosure

Tax lien foreclosures are one of many types of options the government uses for recovering delinquent taxes on a property. The process can be complicated, and requirements often differ from county to county. An experienced real estate attorney understands the process and will diligently protect your interests by helping you gain a clear title to a property purchased at an auction.