Buy a Tax Lien?

September 16, 2008
Michael Sheehan

Physician's Money Digest, July15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 13

Tip:

When local property taxes rise, taxlien sales go up, too, because moreproperty owners fall behind on their taxpayments. When you buy a tax lien,you essentially pay the owner's delinquentproperty taxes, hoping to get themoney back with interest when theowner pays up. If the owner defaults,you get the property. But it's not quiteas simple as it sounds. One drawback isthe time lag—an owner may have up to5 years before you can claim ownershipof the property. Another is that theowner may have defaulted on tax paymentsand won't pay up because theproperty isn't worth the expense, whichmeans you could end up owning aworthless piece of property. Beforebidding on a tax lien, query your localtax assessor on facts and figures and doa drive-by of the property. The bettershape the property is in, the better theodds are that the owner will pay theoverdue taxes on it.