Let's face it. There's a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to investing in tax foreclosure properties. One of the most laughable pieces of misinformation that I seem to always come across has to do with auction lists. Much of this misinformation implies that you must belong to some sort of exclusive or paid membership club to access a tax sale list. Or that you need to fork over hundreds of dollars before you can access a list. The truth of the matter is tax sale lists are FREE, have always been FREE and will always be FREE.
As an informed investor, we must look at it from the county's perspective. The county is foreclosing on these properties since the owner failed to pay the property taxes. Property tax payments contribute to a variety of expenses that help a county and its' government operate. We're talking about things such as law enforcement, fire and rescue services, educational funds, road construction and maintenance, and a lot of other necessities. When someone fails to pay the property taxes the county no longer has the money needed from the tax roll revenue to pay for these costs.
When a property is sold at tax sale auction two primary objectives are met. The first is that the auction itself brings proceeds from the selling price. Properties that are sold at a tax sale auction have not produced revenue for a period of 1-3 years. Accordingly, the proceeds from the auction will essentially reimburse the county for covering that property's share of governmental expenses during this time.
The second and primary objective that it meets is that the property is returned to the tax roll as a tax revenue producing property. The county would rather not have to even deal with tax sale auctions. The ideal situation of course, would be that all property owners make timely payment of their taxes so that tax revenues would be at capacity. But when this doesn't happen the next best thing is that the property is returned to the tax roll as a revenue producing property as quickly as possible. This is done when the property is sold to a responsible tax payer at auction.
Now that we understand the benefits of tax sale auctions does it really make sense to you that counties are going to make it difficult or expensive to obtain tax sale auction lists? Of course not! They want to make it as easy as possible for you!
So how can you get your hands on one of these "elusive" tax sale lists? ASK FOR ONE! It's that simple.
The first thing you need to do is determine who the responsible governmental entity is for tax foreclosures in the area you're investing in. This is the office in charge of handling the tax sale auction. It could be the county clerk, the treasurer, the tax collector, the sheriff's office or another government office as it varies from one area to another. The best way to determine this is to do some quick research through Google. Find out who collects the taxes, give them a call and then ask them who handles the tax sale auctions in the area.
This leads us to the second and final step which is to contact that office and ask for information about any upcoming tax sales. Many times it will be as easy as going to their website and clicking on the "tax sale" link. Other times you'll have to contact a receptionist and ask the best way to obtain one. If a list is not published on their website, they will typically either email, fax or mail it to you. If they fax or mail it you might have to pay a nominal postage or long distance fee but it will usually be free.
Wasn't that easy? No expensive memberships or exclusive clubs to belong to. Just find the responsible government entity and contact them. There isn't much more to it.
The most important thing here is what you do with that list once you have it. How do you read the list? What properties should you choose to invest in? How much do you pay? How much should they sell for? The questions can go on and on.
Before you try to venture into it alone consider getting someone with more experience to train you. As someone who has over a decade worth of full-time experience in numerous states, my experience in unparallelled.