Tax Lien Sales – What Happens When the House Lien Doesn’t Sell?

A few years back, I went to our county’s tax lien sale – mainly to see what it was like. A tax liens sale is what a county does to try to collect unpaid real estate taxes on homes, businesses and land. In our county, if you do not pay taxes for 3 consecutive years, the house goes on the sale list and the lien (the amount of taxes, fees and penalties you owe) is sold off.

What happens if the tax lien doesn’t sell.

Recently, I had cause to look at the past history of some tax sales. St. Louis County stores their tax sale results for past years online. I wondered what happened to the owners that didn’t pay their taxes and whose property tax lien was not sold at the county auction.

I’m guessing that many of the delinquent owners have either just abandoned the property or may even still be living in it!

“Any parcels that are offered, but not sold in the 3rd sale offerings during the Collector’s annual tax sale, and are not actually bid upon by the county, are held by the Collector of Revenue as “Post Third Sale Offerings”. The general public is invited to bid on these properties at any time outside of the tax sale.”

That said, the buyer still must beware of things like other liens (think federal or state government liens for other taxes not paid or mortgages) and bad things like being part of a common area of some sort or having been deemed hazardous (which would require the new owner to spend lots of money to clean up the hazard).

In addition, the lien holder has to meet very stringent requirements (notifications mainly) and pay fees and more in order to transfer the deed. Then, if someone is still living on the property, they have to start eviction proceedings.

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