I already know what you're thinking and let me tell you in this first sentence I am NOT interested in buying properties at tax sale. I'll save you the time if you wanted to learn more about tax sale buying strategies. However, if you're wanting to learn more about the sale BEFORE the sale then you are definitely are at the right place.
Properties go to tax sale for severely delinquent taxes on a property. Not necessarily because of a dollar amount but more importantly because of the time that has elapsed on when the taxes should have been paid. Local municipalities are not charitable organizations and will be VERY willing to sell a property delinquent in taxes caring absolutely nothing about the equity involved—-they only want the tax situation resolved.
In my area there is a published listing of these properties that will be heading toward a tax sale approximately 4-6 weeks before the date actually arrives. PLENTY of time for me to make a deal with a motivated seller. Yes, it is public information and the answer is “yes” probably others may be trying to work out a deal with your target market seller too. You won't get every bona fide great deal through tax sale process but certainly enough to make it worth your while.
A listing of properties going to tax sale is nothing more than a list of motivated sellers. Who else would be more motivated to get at least SOME money from their property while letting all that large chunk of equity go to someone else.
That someone may not always be an independent seller but even can be a bank or financial institution holding mortgage on a property. Start talking to banks/financial institutions about a property they could possibly lose to tax sale with a significant mortgage previously held on the property and now we're talking about M-O-T-I-V-A-T-E-D!
There is absolutely no reason you shouldn't count on at least one deal per quarter from targeting motivated sellers through tax sale opportunities. So, now that you have your tax sale listing information then you may feel this is about knocking on doors and using private investigators to find these sellers—WRONG! I simply plug the subject property address and owner's mailing address (may or may not be same) into my direct mail software program only found in “Find All The Motivated Sellers You Can Handle!”. In that 4-6 week period the seller will receive two letters and two postcards from me to get them motivated enough to call me!
There is absolutely some merit to simply knocking on the doors of the sellers or doing reverse phone directories and getting a phone number to talk to them directly. However, motivated sellers through the tax sale process is only ONE weapon in my arsenal and time is of the essence. It's just that a direct mail approach produces bottom-line results and gives me the results I'm seeking.
Once you locate your motivated seller through tax sale opportunities then there are two main issues to deal with: all encumbrances on property, clear title. You need to be comfortable enough to evaluate what the tax situation on the property is to make it current and in addition if there is an ability to gain clear title. Having a basic knowledge of calculating taxes on the property only needs for you to evaluate within a few hundred dollars to see if it's worth your while. However, if you feel you have that “great” deal then spend a hundred dollars or so and make sure you have clear title before going through with your favorite creative buying technique.
Now that you have that “green” light to go on a property knowing total encumbrances and clear title then negotiate your best deal that fits your investment criteria. The great thing about tax sale properties sometimes you don't even have to make the entire amount current. Even with some money down local municipalities will work out a payment plan and take off tax sale status available. For example a property with $4,000 in delinquent taxes you may be able to CONTROL the entire property with 10% down of tax delinquent balance—-if you're working with motivated sellers.
The surprising thing to me is that when you start contacting owners of properties with delinquent taxes some of them actually don't know that the property was going to tax sale. Go figure! Contacting them and how you can help out the situation that needs immediate attention will have you looking like the knight on the white horse riding in to save the castle. Of course you are an investor and it has to make great financial sense because that is what this whole process is about: Find Truly Great Deals!
Even if the property does go to tax sale many individuals will contact you later after it's sold. There is usually a redemption period where the seller can “redeem” the ownership of the property but of course past delinquent taxes and interest to buyer would have to be paid. Just calm the sellers nerves a little if this happens and if they are truly motivated on not losing all that equity so you can make your best deal. If the deal is that strong then proceed redeeming the taxes but especially at this point always seek competent legal counsel.
I teach this technique to many individuals but so many overlook the opportunities here on properties with delinquent taxes. Be sure to have a direct mail system to keep your message going to the potential seller more than once. Then be prepared to make some deals answering the question, “can people really buy properties that cheap?” The answer is “yes” with motivated sellers!