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Tax Lien Due Diligence

Don't go into a tax lien sale blind, do your tax lien due diligence. Make sure to complete as many of the following items as you can before the tax lien sale occurs.

  1. Obtain an updated copy of the sales list a few days before the sale. Owners will pay off their taxes owed any time up until the final sale occurs. You may show up at a sale expecting to bid on certain liens, only to find out the owner paid off a week before the sale occurred.


  2. Check out the file for the property at the county office or online if you can.
    • Determine what class of property it is; residential, commercial, farm, vacant, etc..
    • Check if there is a mortgage on the property
    • Find out how the property is zoned and what is needed to build on it. How large, how much road frontage, sewage, etc...if you get a vacant lot, and no one redeems, no one will buy it if you can't build on it.
    • Find out what the property is assessed at and what the annual taxes on it are.

  3. Locate the physical address and go and check out the property.


  4. Make sure you know the payment methods and come equipped to pay.

All this work sounds like you are checking the property out to purchase it. But really what you're doing is checking the property out and determining whether you think it's the kind of property that an owner would pay off the taxes for. And if the taxes are not paid off you want to make sure it's the type of property that is worth owning.

What's the worst case scenario that can occur if you don't do your due diligence? You may bid on a small plot of grass that nobody wants. No one pays off the lien and the property becomes yours. And then no one will buy the property because it is too small to build on and worthless to everyone, especially you, who has now lost the money initially invested in the lien because you never bothered to check out the property and find out some details on it.

Don't rush into purchasing tax lien certificates or tax deeds without doing the work involved in preparing for a sale!

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