How to Find a Good Tax Sale Opportunity List
Tax Sale List Basics
There are essentially two categories of tax sale lists -
You may wonder: “if the investors at the auction didn’t want to purchase these, then why would I want to purchase these?” It’s a valid concern, but in reality not every investor had unlimited investing resources and not every property had a buyer. When you attend tax sales, you will notice a few things.
First, there will probably be a lot of people there and you will also notice that only a few people are actually bidding on investments. The rest of the people are just watching.
Second, the volume of available tax sales are simply beyond your imagination. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona there were over 27,000 liens available for purchase at the sale and 13,000 were left over after the sale. In Chicago there were 96,000 liens available at the sale and 44,000 left over. In Miami there were 50,000 left over.
There are incredible deals in those leftover tax liens!
The over-the-counter lists are usually released a week or two after the auction takes place. It takes the county workers a little bit of time to reconcile the list. Once the list is ready some counties will post it to their website, but in most cases, the investor has to contact the county to request the updated list. Not all counties will offer over-the-counter investing. In that case, the county will hold them until the next sale and offer them again.
Locating tax sale lists is pretty simple to do. However, it is probably one of the most time consuming parts of tax lien investing, but don't give up because your hard work will be rewarded handsomely late on!
How to Find Tax Sale Lists
The first thing you need to do is to decide which county you will invest in and when that county's tax sales will occur. Once you know when the sale is happening, there are three ways for you to get a tax sale list:
How to Use NACO.org to Find County Information
Go to about counties in the top left corner, and then select the state you’re interested in, for example: Arizona.
NACO provides a lot of information about the state and counties. It shows a map of the counties, when it was founded, the county seat, square miles, and the population. The population is useful because it largely determines the size of the tax sale and potentially the competition levels. Then you select a county, for example: Mohave. After selecting a county it shows the county’s population trends and contact information for elected officials. Click on the link to Mohave County’s website.
Note that every county website is different. So sometimes it’s tricky to find the right department and the tax sale list. Some are easier to navigate than others. But most have the same general pages and tabs. Most county websites have a search tool, county services, elected officials, and department listings. Look for two offices: the office that handles the tax sales and the office that does the property records and assessments.
Typically the treasurer’s office handles the tax sales and the tax assessor handles the property records and assessments. That’s pretty standard across all counties. You would use the assessor page to research each property you want to invest in. You would find fair market values, assessed values, images of properties, owner information, and other information that is very useful during your due diligence.
How to Use Google to Find County Information
Let’s look at another example: Riverside County, California. Go to Google.com and search for “riverside, ca county.” Once you get to the website find the treasurer or tax collector and then look for keywords like property taxes, tax sale, property tax website, delinquent parcels, county held certificates, delinquent taxes, etc. There is a link that says property tax website. Click on that. On the left side of the page you see a bunch of information including tax sales. You may also want to take a look at results from a previous sale if you’re interested in that.