Buying Tax Liens Over the Counter

At just about every tax lien auction there are properties that don’t get sold. Most likely these properties are viewed by the experienced tax lien investor and decided not to be a worthy investment. Generally, these properties are bought by the state and held for a certain amount of time depending on the state statutes. After that time has expired, the state will auction them off at deed sales. If they don’t sell at deed sales they are available at what is called “over the counter”.  For example, in West Virginia these properties are usually held for a year after the lien sale and then must be included in one deed sell before they are available.

Buying a property over the counter is nothing more than buying the property in a form other than the auction process. Some states list their available property through government websites or lists obtained by calling the land commissioner or even auction websites such as EBay or Bid4assets. These properties can usually be bought at the bare minimum as the state is trying to get them off the delinquent tax rolls and back on the active rolls, thus making revenue off of them. Again, using West Virginia as an example, the minimum bid at state tax auctions are $1. That means if you were to go to the State Auditor’s website you should be able to get most of these properties at $1 since they didn’t sell for that price before.

Keep in mind that these properties are probably the worst properties that were available at the auction and were passed over by everyone for a reason. But if you don’t like to attend the high -pressure, fast- moving auctions or don’t have the time or money for gas/airfare to travel to the auctions, over the counter may be the way to go.

Again these properties should be quite inexpensive and a good way for the beginning investor to add to their portfolio. But a word of caution, do your research before you buy and don’t get caught holding something entirely worthless.



Please understand that I am not an attorney or accountant. If you need legal or financial advice please retain the services of a competent professional.