What Happens When You Buy a Tax Deed

When a property owner fails to pay their property taxes, the local government has the authority to place a tax lien on the property. If the owner continues to neglect their tax obligations, the government may eventually sell the property at a tax deed auction. Buying a tax deed can be an attractive investment opportunity, but it is essential to understand the process and potential risks involved. In this article, we will delve into what happens when you buy a tax deed and address some frequently asked questions.

When you purchase a tax deed, you are essentially buying the rights to the property. However, it is important to note that the property may still have existing liens or mortgages that you will have to deal with. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process:

1. Research: Before participating in a tax deed auction, thorough research is essential. You should investigate the property’s condition, market value, and any potential encumbrances.

2. Auction: Tax deed auctions are typically held by the county or local government, either in person or online. Bidders compete by offering the highest bid, and the property is typically sold to the highest bidder.

3. Payment: If you win the auction, you will be required to pay the full amount of your bid immediately or within a specified timeframe. Payment methods may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

4. Deed Issuance: Once payment is received, the government will issue a tax deed to the buyer, transferring ownership rights. However, the redemption period starts from this point, during which the previous owner has the opportunity to redeem the property by paying the outstanding taxes and fees.

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5. Redemption Period: The redemption period varies from state to state, typically ranging from a few months to a few years. During this period, you will not have full control over the property, and the previous owner may still reclaim ownership.

6. Eviction: If the previous owner fails to redeem the property within the redemption period, you can proceed with eviction if necessary. This often involves going through a legal process to remove any occupants or tenants from the property.

7. Clearing Liens: As the new owner, it is your responsibility to clear any outstanding liens or mortgages on the property. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring legal assistance in some cases.

8. Property Maintenance and Sale: Once all liens are cleared, you can take possession of the property. You may choose to sell it immediately or hold onto it as a long-term investment. It is crucial to consider the property’s condition, market demand, and potential for profit before making any decisions.


1. Can anyone buy a tax deed property?
Yes, tax deed auctions are typically open to the public, allowing anyone to bid on properties.

2. Are tax deed properties a good investment?
Tax deed properties can be a lucrative investment if you do thorough research, understand the risks involved, and have a strategy in place.

3. What happens if the previous owner redeems the property?
If the previous owner redeems the property during the redemption period, you will be refunded the amount you paid for the tax deed, plus any applicable interest.

4. Can I inspect the property before buying a tax deed?
In most cases, you can inspect the property before the auction. However, it may not always be possible, especially if it is occupied.

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5. Are there any hidden costs associated with buying a tax deed?
Yes, there can be additional costs such as legal fees for clearing liens, property maintenance expenses, or unpaid property taxes.

6. What happens if the property has additional liens or mortgages?
You will be responsible for clearing any outstanding liens or mortgages on the property after purchasing a tax deed.

7. Can I finance the purchase of a tax deed property?
In most cases, tax deed purchases require immediate or short-term payment in full. Financing options may be limited or unavailable.

8. What happens if I don’t pay property taxes after buying a tax deed?
As the new owner, it is your responsibility to pay property taxes. Failure to do so can result in the government placing a tax lien on the property and potentially auctioning it off again.

Buying a tax deed can be a rewarding investment opportunity, but it is crucial to educate yourself about the process, potential risks, and responsibilities involved. Thorough research, careful consideration, and professional guidance are key to ensuring a successful tax deed purchase.

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