Home Facts Free Lessons Blog Contact
Tax Lien Facts
You can either scroll down through each question below, or you can jump ahead to a section of interest by clicking on the question in the table of contents.
What Exactly is a Tax Lien Certificate?
A Tax Lien Certificate is a first position lien on real estate due to delinquent property taxes. Once property taxes on a property are one year delinquent, the county government is going to offer a tax lien certificate on the property. Tax lien certificates pay fixed rates of returns of 8% to 36% interest per year depending on which county you’re investing in. The price of the tax lien certificate is the amount of one years back taxes and penalties, and therefore can range in price from under $100, to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Tax Lien Certificates fall under property tax law, and are therefore enforced and governed by state law.
The tax lien certificate investment is secured by the property, similar to a mortgage, except by law, a tax lien certificate takes priority over a mortgage. Because property taxes are a small fraction of the value of the property (less than 2%), the tax lien certificate investment is typically secured by property on at least a 50 to 1 basis. To put this in perspective, banks only secure your deposits dollar for dollar or 1 to 1.
Do All States Offer Tax Lien Certificates?
No. About half the states in the United States offer Tax Lien Certificates, and the other half offer Tax Deeds. Both systems offer very lucrative investment opportunities for the informed investor. Both are means of collecting delinquent property taxes, putting properties back on the tax roll, and generating revenue to the county for schools, police departments, roads, hospitals, fire departments, and libraries.
One is not necessarily more advantageous, lucrative, or preferred over the other. The two systems are simply different; both have their advantages, and both are lucrative in their own way.
IMPORTANT: You don’t have to live in a Tax Lien Certificate state to acquire tax lien certificates, and you don’t have to live in a Tax Deed state to acquire tax deeds. Through the strategy of "assignment purchasing," you can safely acquire tax lien certificates and tax deeds from the comfort of your own home.
How Does the Tax Lien Process Work?
Once property taxes are one-year delinquent on a property, the county government is going to hold a sale and offer tax lien certificates for sale on all of the delinquent properties. As investors, we can attend these sales and acquire tax lien certificates that pay you 8% to 36% interest per year depending on which county we’re investing in. Again, you don’t have to go to auctions to acquire tax lien certificates; it’s simply the way the process begins.
When you acquire a tax lien certificate, by law, you are now the first position lien holder of record. In essence what you did was pay the delinquent tax bill, and in return you received a Tax Lien Certificate. When the delinquent property taxes are paid, you receive all of your original investment back, plus the guaranteed high interest rate.
Each state has a redemption period, or grace period in which the delinquent property taxes must be paid. Redemption periods range from 6 months to 3 years depending on which county you’re investing in.
If the delinquent property taxes are not paid within the redemption period, the lien holder may exercise his or her right to initiate the judicial process of property tax foreclosure. Once this process is complete, the tax lien certificate investor will receive the deed to the property free and clear with no mortgage.
Property tax law clearly states that once this process is complete, "tax foreclosure will result in the loss of ownership of the property and all rights of all interested parties…" which gives you a free and clear deed to the property.
When informed investors conduct proper due diligence, and acquire tax lien certificates on the right types of properties, there are only two outcomes: 1) the tax lien certificate redeems, and the investor receives all of their money back plus the state-mandated rate of interest (8-36%), or 2) the tax lien certificate does not redeem, and the investor receives a free and clear deed to the property with no mortgage for literally pennies on the dollar.
Are There Any Risks??
Some counties will identify these types of challenged properties on their lists. Other counties will remove these challenged properties from their list completely. We always advise our students to complete thorough due diligence no matter what. After 27 years of real world, in the field experience, we’ve learned the most accurate information we can rely on is from our own due diligence.
The most common risk factors are: IRS liens, Bankruptcy, condemned structures, environmental issues, unusable lands, undesirable neighborhoods, industrial properties, and worthless properties. It’s important to note that these risk factors exist even when you’re purchasing your own home.
Although these risk factors exist, with proper due diligence, each of these risk factors can easily be avoided. It’s simply a matter of knowing what the risk factor is, and the specific strategy to completely avoid it.
Is There a Lot of Competition?
Yes and No. If you don’t have a nationwide strategy, and you restrict yourself only to your local market, then yes, there could be competition. When you have a nationwide strategy, where you have access to safely acquire Tax Lien Certificates nationwide right from the comfort of your own home, then NO, there’s almost no competition.
For example, if you lived in a county that only paid 8% interest, and had very few tax lien certificates available, then there wouldn’t be much opportunity there.
Conversely, when you implement the strategy of "assignment purchasing," which allows you to safely acquire tax lien certificates from the comfort of your own home, you can live in that same county, and now you have access to:
These are just a few examples. There are over 2,000 counties in America that offer Tax Lien Certificates.
Aren’t You Taking Advantage of People in Financial Trouble?
No! When you and I acquire a tax lien certificate, in essence what we’re doing is paying someone else’s delinquent property tax bill for them. In return, we receive a tax lien certificate on the property, which bears the interest rate. Because the tax lien certificate has a grace period of 6 months to 3 years, we just bought the property owner time. Rather than taking advantage of someone in financial trouble, we did just the opposite; we gave them the opportunity to stay in their home for an additional 6 months to 3 years.
We don’t know of any other creditor in the world that would give the property owner a 6-month to 3-year grace period to pay their delinquent bill without any negative consequences. Banks don’t, credit card companies don’t, car loans don’t, student loans don’t, phone companies don’t, insurance companies don’t, internet companies don’t, landlords don’t, and utility companies don’t. Tax lien certificate investors do!
When you and I acquire a tax lien certificate:
Tax lien certificates are a socially responsible investment that benefit society as a whole, and help people who may be in financial trouble.
Why Would Someone Lose Their Property for a Couple of Hundred,