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Tips on Purchasing a Tax Defaulted Property

Updated on November 26, 2015

Thinking of purchasing a foreclosed property?

Why not buy a tax defaulted property? In some cases you could get a better deal and against less competition, directly from the county. Perfect example, in a 2011 tax sale in Orange County, California an Irvine property sold for $243,000. Properties in this neighborhood range from $400,000 to $500,000 in today’s market, what a deal.


Overview of Tax Sales in California
California has adopted a tax deed auction process to collect delinquent property taxes. California holds Tax Sales all different time of the year varying per County. You must register online, in person or by mail to participate in the Tax auctions. Registration can be made all the way up to one to two days prior to the auction, but its best to register early, most of the time a deposit will be required. All properties will have a minimum bid, which has been determined
by the county prior to the tax sale. The starting bid will include delinquent taxes, all penalties, and admin cost. Orange County, San Francisco County, and San Diego County hold some of the largest auctions in the state and Los Angeles County is one of the most popular auctions.


For detailed information on a property the bidder will have to do their own due diligence, one way of doing this is to contact a local title company, they are available and able to assist with this type of records and parcel data research, sometimes for a fee. The bidder will need to check for easements, covenants conditions and restrictions, any IRS tax liens and if the property has a structure or is vacant land. All other liens including, senior and junior deeds of trust and county tax liens will be eliminated with Tax Sale, so the winning bidder will receive a free and clear property.
The winning bidder will receive the deed to the property once they have paid for in full, most auctions will require the winning bidder to pay the entire amount once they have won the bid. Some counties will have restrictions on when you can build on the property you have won.


Another thing to remember is when can the winning bidder start improvements on the property, “There is a one (1) year period of time, after the date the tax deed is executed that improvements can be commenced, pursuant to Section 3725 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code”


Breakdown of the Tax Sale
Type of Tax Sale: You will receive a Tax Deed.
Contact for the Sale: You can contact the Tax collector or treasurer’s office for the County.
Bid Procedure: The highest bid will win.
Redemption Period: There is NO redemption period for the previous owner, once the property is sold through auction and the deed is recorded the previous owner cannot redeem.


For your convenience, I have posted a list of all the Counties in California with their website for their tax sale information. For more information regarding a specific public auction sale, contact the county tax collector's office.


Alameda County
http://www.acgov.org/treasurer/index.shtml
Alpine County
http://www.alpinecountyca.gov/assessor
Amador County
http://www.co.amador.ca.us/index.aspx?page=132
Butte County
http://www.buttecounty.net/Treasurer%20-%20Tax%20Collector.aspx
Calaveras County
http://co.calaveras.ca.us/cc/Departments/TaxCollector.aspx
Colusa County
http://www.countyofcolusa.org/index.aspx?nid=184
Contra Costa County
http://www.contracosta.ca.gov/index.aspx?nid=199
Del Norte County
http://www.co.del-norte.ca.us/departments/treasurer-tax-collector
El Dorado County
http://www.edcgov.us/Government/TaxCollector/Public_Auction_Tax_Sale.aspx
Fresno County
http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DepartmentPage.aspx?id=15105
Glenn County
http://www.countyofglenn.net/govt/departments/tax_collector/contact.aspx
Humboldt County
http://co.humboldt.ca.us/taxcollt/auction-info.html
Imperial County
http://www.co.imperial.ca.us/TaxCollectorTreasurer/Treasurer/PdfDoc/PropertyTaxAuction.pdf
Inyo County
http://www.inyocounty.us/taxcollector/tax_auction.htm
Kern County
http://www.kcttc.co.kern.ca.us/
Kings County
http://www.countyofkings.com/finance/index.html
Lake County
http://tax.lakecountyca.gov/
Lassen County
http://www.co.lassen.ca.us/govt/dept/treasurer/default.asp
Los Angeles County
http://ttax.co.la.ca.us/auction_intro.htm
Madera County
http://www.madera-county.com/treasurer/default_taxsale.html
Marin County
http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/TC/main/taxes/pages/auctioninfo.cfm
Mariposa County
http://www.mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?NID=317
Mendocino County
http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/tax/auction.htm
Merced County
http://www.mercedtaxcollector.org/tax_defaulted_tax_sale.html
Modoc County
http://modoc.taxcess.com/screens/tax_sales.php
Mono County
http://www.monocounty.ca.gov/departments/treasurer/treasurer.html
Monterey County
http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/taxcollector/Auction_Internet.html
Napa County
http://www.countyofnapa.org/Pages/DepartmentContent.aspx?id=4294970826&linkidentifier=id&itemid=4294970826
Nevada County
http://www.mynevadacounty.com/ttc/
Orange County
http://egov.ocgov.com/
Placerville County
http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Tax/LandSale.aspx
Plumas County
http://www.countyofplumas.com/index.aspx?nid=294
Riverside County
http://www.treasurer-tax.co.riverside.ca.us/tax_sale_information2.aspx
Sacramento County
http://www.finance.saccounty.net/Tax/Pages/TaxSale.aspx
San Benito County
http://www.san-benito.ca.us/departments/ttcpa/
San Bernardino County
https://sbcounty.mytaxsale.com/
San Diego County
http://www.sdtreastax.com/property-tax-sales.html
San Joaquin County
http://www.sjgov.org/Treasurer/dynamic.aspx?id=9511
San Luis Obispo County
http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/tax/taxsaleinfo.htm
San Mateo County
http://www.sanmateocountytaxcollector.org/index.html
Santa Barbara County
http://www.countyofsb.org/ttcpapg/taxsale.asp
Santa Clara County
http://www.sccgov.org/
Santa Cruz County
http://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/ttc/Auction_General_Information_FEB_2014.pdf
San Francisco County
http://www.sftreasurer.org/index.aspx?page=129
Shasta County
http://www.co.shasta.ca.us/html/TC/tc_auctioninfo.htm
Sierra County
http://www.sierracounty.ws/index.php
Siskiyou County
http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/tax/faq.aspx
Solano County
http://www.co.solano.ca.us/depts/ttcc/tax_collector/tax_sale/sales_information.asp
Sonoma County
http://www.sonoma-county.org/tax/property_taxes.htm
Stansilaus County
http://www.stancounty.com/tr-tax/auction/index.htm
Sutter County
http://www.suttercounty.org/doc/government/depts/ttc/ttchome
Tehama County
http://www.co.tehama.ca.us/index.php/tax-sale-tax-collector-114
Trinity County
http://www.trinitycounty.org/Departments/taxtreas/auction.htm
Tulare County
http://www.co.tulare.ca.us/government/treasurertax/tax_auction/default.asp
Tuolumne County
http://portal.co.tuolumne.ca.us
Ventura County
http://portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page/portal/tax_collector/public_auction
Yolo County
http://www.yolocounty.org/Index.aspx?page=852
Yuba County
http://www.co.yuba.ca.us/Departments/Treasurer/auction/

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    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      This hub includes a lot of information. Very nicely written!

    • TomRy profile image
      Author

      TomRy 5 years ago from USA

      Hello Nancy, yes anyone can purchase as long as you register as a bidder, I believe the majority of the auctions only accept full payment at the time of the winning bid. So financing is not likely.

    • profile image

      Nancy H. 5 years ago

      Great information Tom, now can anyone purchase these and can I buy with financing?

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

      I have been interested in learning more about this kind of a property purchase. The article is informative and helpful. Thanks