Tax Lien Certificate Sale Day

sale todayIt was a rainy morning and I overslept, but I hopped in the car and drove up to the county office complex to sit in on the tax lien certificate auction anyway.

The sale started at 10 am, with registration starting at 9:30 am – I got there at 9:15 – right before the deluge started outside.

There were about 10 people in the room already, including two county personnel. They asked me if I wanted to register so I did. After swearing a written affidavit that I owed no taxes, I picked up my auction number (9) – which was just a number in black magic marker on a 5×3 inch piece of white poster paper.

The room slowly filled as I started chatting with some of the folks. There was a couple about my age that live a few miles from me. In front, an old woman and her daughter sat looking through their research. Across the aisle was a young mother with her 3 year old daughter.

Read on to hear more about sale day in my county.

Observations Before the Sale Started
I moved up to the front row so I could chat with the old woman and her daughter. The daughter was about my age, a self confessed real estate flipper and she had copies of maps of serveral of the tax lien properties. She was really there as a chauffeur to her 92 year old mom – her mom was the tax lien guru in the family.

The city (a big metropolitan city) official was there to make sure that back city taxes were collected.

bulletinboardThere was a big moveable bulletin board set up with ‘the list’ of properties on it – color coded with properties which had been in the sale, but whose owners had paid taxes. It showed by color which week they had been paid.

Soon enough, the County Collector, Clerk, Counselor and several others made their way to the table set up in front with a microphone.

When Sheila (the County Collector) started the sale there were 30 registered bidders.

Looking around the room, I saw a variety of ages and types. There were participants in their 30s, couples in their 60s and men and women between 40 – 50 years old. Men and women were equally represented. Some wore shorts and flip flops some were in business casual.  People were talking amongst themselves and rifling through their research papers and the current list given out that day by the county when folks registered.

Sale Time!
Sheila also had a copy of the current list. She started the sale by reading an official notice out loud to the group. She introduced the lawyer, the city tax man and the clerk and then explained how the sale would be conducted – after requesting us to turn off our cell phones.

For each property on ‘the list’ she read out the list number, the total amount of taxes, penalties and fees due and then asked if there was a bid for the amount of the total.

In most cases, there was a bid – sometimes two or three at once. When there were multiple bidders, the auction process started – each bidder upping the bid to try to get the lien.

Most of the liens that sold went for much more than the amount listed as the total due on ‘the list’.

As the sale progressed, it became apparent that there was one bidder (#12) who was a major player. He bid on most every property and was very competitive – raising the bid amount by $1000 or $2000 each time he had to bid. He had a couple of people helping him keep track of the properties and how high to go on each one.

Sale’s Over, Now What?
The sale was over by 10:40 am and the county officials disappeared into their various offices to figure up how much each winning bidder owed.

The winners hung around (and so did several of we first time attenders) waiting to pay for their lien’s. The 92 year old woman got her walker going and moved up to the front table to add up how much she owed. It had a light and she could see better. She started pulling various checkbooks out of her purse and making out checks. Later the county clerk came in looking for certain people to get them to come to the office to pay, but they let the older lady pay from where she sat.

I hung around with the winners and hangers on to see what I could learn!  I tell more of the bidders stories and summarize some results from the tax lien sale in my next post.

What did you think of my description of this tax lien certificate auction? Did it sound like something you might like to attend? I had a great time, but then I just like seeing new things and meeting new people.

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