Tax delinquent property lists

32 Replies

Hey guys, new wholesaler here. I am seeking some advice on tax delinquent properties. I have obtained a list, however I am not sure how to approach these deals. Do I send them a yellow letter or skip trace and cold call? I really need some guidance from a seasoned investor or wholesaler. Any help is welcome, thank you in advance!

Make sure to check out what Seth Williams is doing with his delinquent tax properties. 

I did a few of these mailings and they were okay but not deal came out of it. I sent out a simple letter something along the lines of 'I was going through public records (make sure to include that part) and I noticed you owed some money on property taxes. You may be facing financial problems and here is how I may be able to help you out. I can make you a cash offer and help you get out of your financial situation. If you are not interested in selling you can contact people at the county auditor website as their are other assistance programs available.'

You could try the skip trace but it might be for naught. A lot of those delinquencies that are only a year old will get paid back in full. 3 years and more you might have a lead but sellers might not be thinking straight when they are emotional stressed.

How often do you plan to mail them? I only mailed once because these were homes that were facing forefeiture in the next 30 days so either they were on board or weren't. I didn't have the same luck with the homes that were delinquent but weren't facing forefeiture.

I'm in California, so they can be delinquent for five years before they are sold at auction. I would like to get a list between two and four years and put them on a drip. I usually do my direct mailings on a 9 hit drip. The first 6 are fairly quick and then the last three are every two months. I'm still really new to this.

Skylar Moyer hey I'm new to wholesaling and I'm still learning. But I wanted to ask how did you obtain a list of tax delinquent properties, I would like to get a list. Could you help me out I'm also from CA trying to network with fellow wholesalers.


While I do not have advice on how to go about approaching these, I do have a word of caution. I will tell you what happened to me. I was going the same route you are and obtained the San Diego County list. I quickly abandoned it. For one, I wasn't sure where to go as it is very hard in CA to find owner info without making a billion phone calls and even then the info may not be accurate. But, what I found is, the list only gets updated when the next batch goes to auction. So in San Diego, almost every property I checked into, either the owner information was not correct, or they had since brought their tax bill current and the list still showed them as delinquent. 

I am not saying every list will be like that, but I thought I would share my personal experience.

I wish you better luck than I had!

Today I'm finishing up the list of tax delinquent properties I put together from my county's tax assessor website. I'll be sending out yellow letters in this coming first week of February.

The plan is to record results and post here on BP for accountability. I'll come back and post the link to my thread once it's up.

Good luck!

This thread seems to follow a common theme: the blind leading the blind.

Working CA defaulted property tax lists can be deceiving.

You can get a list fairly easily, typically for free from county websites or ********** (dot) com.

However, it's typically not as simple as knocking on the door and trying to negotiate a deal.

Why not?

There are usually bigger issues. Like owner being deceased. Or incompetent.

Or, as is often the case, relocated and someone living in the subject property but not paying the taxes (or rent) while fat, dumb and happy.

Your most valuable skill will be skip tracing; finding people who have a record ownership interest. 

Next is title research. It won't do you any good if you're chasing Harry when you should be looking for Mary.

Smart people who want to work tax defaulted properties will invest a grand or do in a good training course that walks you through the process, step-by-step.

Hi @Rick H. ,

You seem to know what you're talking about and I appreciate that very much, since I'm also just starting in this business. I guess at some point everybody was a rookie, right? :-)

Could you suggest where to do such a training you're referring to? Who do you recommend?

Also, I've been searching for those free lists in the county websites (specially Los Angeles) and I had no luck whatsoever, do you mind giving us a hint?

Thank you very much in advance, and I'm looking forward to speaking with you soon!

You can get free lists from each county or ********** (dot) com [BP moderators are fussy about other websites].

Then, you'll need to vet those thousands of properties by targeting inly those that meet your criteria. 

Some lists do not provide physical addresses. We circumvented thus problem and cracked the APN code by purchasing large assessor maps from each county, noting the geographical whereabouts of each map book and eliminating outlying areas such as desert and ghetto communities. 

There are many postage stamp-size lots, irregular, unbuildable, brownfield (contaminated) property, etc. 

I think the smart money is to use defaulted taxes as clues to buy prior to tax sale, and not to be a bidder. Those who are bidders are suite frequently unskilled in selling or negotiating with principals, hence they must wait to bid on the dregs.

I strongly suggest tax trackers study real estate title. There's much to know and plenty to go wrong. 

@Eduardo Slesaransky @Jason Russell

You can get a list of properties that will go to auction in CA on the county's website under treasure and tax collectors, but like Rick said above, there's no physical address, so you have to research with their map and figure out what's what, then you have to run the title and find out about other leans like IRS leans if any etc...then CA has this thing where you can't sell the property for a year because of no title insurance and the owner can come back and try to re-claim the property within the year. 

Just make sure you educate yourself and have a lot of time to research.

Thank you @Ludmila Hill for your answers. So not all is lost in the auction marketplace.

In your experience, are there many auctions taking place physically (I mean not online) in the LA area? I know there's one in the Pomona Fairgrounds around August, if I'm not mistaken.


I am working tax delinquent properties in Dupage and Kane counties in Illinois. I originally took a class years ago with Joanne Musa about how to bid at the auctions. More recently I took one with Coach Mitch. I had also taken Rick Dawson's. I send out letters that I've tweaked from the courses. I've gotten some responses but usually the owners say they are going to pay the taxes, etc. Some are deceased owners, some might be renters living there, so it's tough. Takes a lot of work, although I've been told to just send the letters and do research later if they call me back. I've done skip tracing to contact relatives but usually little response or the phone #s are no longer accurate. I've gone so far as skip trace a drivers license of a car in the driveway and found it to be the daughter of the decease, however, she didn't contact me back. Obviously she's living rent free. Then there are properties that end up being listed on the MLS and sell before the deadline.

Hi. The members of my private group for raw land investors often get their tax delinquent lists either directly from the county (although you need to specify you are looking for a tax delinquent list and not just the tax lien list). Finding the right person at the county to supply this can be challenging and the cost for the list varies greatly from county to county. 

Another source is directly from he county website if available. You can hire a virtual assistant to collect the information for you and put it in a spreadsheet. 

Another source is using a list service such as Agentpro247 however the lists generated by these services may be out of date so your may want to avoid telling the owner "your taxes are delinquent" as they may have actually paid them since the list data was last updated. 

Finally some members have had success obtaining tax delinquent lists from title companies. 


@Eduardo Slesaransky @Skylar Moyer  

I guess I'll add my 2 cents as being someone that has been doing tax delinquent properties as one of my main filters, and have made a truckload of money off of these.

Before I give you some hints on your methods, remember these leads are just a means to an end. Our business model isn't probate, code enforcement, abandoned properties, or tax delinquent properties. Our biz model is professional problem solving.

All of those situations, being tax delinquent, having code enforcement issues, etc, are all leads to people with problems that you can solve in exchange for equity.

Ex: sure a number of properties are getting delinquent because the owner past, but if you track down the heir and assist them in doing the probate, isn't that going to be a great point of negotiation? "I will pay for your probate and take care of the liens and pay you (blank) for your equity," wouldn't that be a strong negotiating position?

(For more of an understanding of what I mean, here is a link to a post I did that explains in more detail. )

Ok, enough of the soapbox speech, though if you understand that truth, you will get more deals which will make you more money, let's get to those leads.

You can get tax delinquent leads from many good lead sources, however if I were you, I would add another filter. I would ask for vacant house leads with tax delinquent as the additional filter. That will give you a lot more bang for your buck.

As @rick h said, you can get your list for free from the tax collector. The catch is, there is no such thing as a free list. You have to pay either with cash to the list provider or pay with sweat equity through the collector by having to weed through their list for what you are specifically looking for. You can usually get the list of delinquent liens by asking your collector for the current or most recent list of tax certificates for sale. There will usually be an additional identifier for multi year delinquent. (Like an asterix or something) Most of the certificates are first year certificates, I prefer at least 2 years or more.

@Skylar, when you find a home where the person has past, simply google that person's name along with the city where the home was and the word obituary and more often then not you will pull up an obit along with his/her next of kin along with the city/state they live.

I do not send letters because I do exactly what Rick said and do my title due diligence before reaching out and look for the best deals and the low hanging fruit, then I skip those people using my own techniques which I posted in another post.

I call these people personally as these deals are golden and get probably a 50-70% closing rate by solving problems.

I hope this helps.

The best way to purchase property with accumulated back taxes associated (especially land) is to mail the owner a purchase agreement for a very low amount. $500-$1000 in most cases.

Back tax lists only provide a small portion of the properties that are really purchasable so you miss tons of great opportunities.

My group has been doing this since the '90s with great success. (no affiliation) is great resource to see the basic number of properties with associated back taxes which is a good indicator of what will happen of you send offers to property owners in the county, and I understand it's free or used to be.

@Ronnie Boyd

@Eduardo Slesaransky

@Dom K.

@Jay M.

@Laura Folk

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