Finding Tax Lien help??

12 Replies

What do you guys know about tax liens? How to find them how does Massachusetts handle them? Each county handles them differently I believe, so how does one find tax liened properties only and go about purchase them?

@Alex Jean Baptiste

Someone who specializes in tax liens may be able to answer or expand on this better than me, but to my understanding there are tax lien states and tax deed states. In tax lien states you can buy the lien, in tax deed states you can go to a tax sale to buy the property.

Massachusetts is a tax deed state. Tax deed auctions are held on a local municipality level at various times throughout the year (the municipalities are the ones who take ownership of the delinquent property and sell them at auction). Pretty sure the actual selling process of the tax delinquent properties varies depending on the municipality. 

Property owners have six (6) months to exercise their right to redeem the property after sale though, and they can do this by paying the purchase price of the tax deed plus a 16% interest penalty.

@Dave Van Horn thanks for your response. so I am pretty sure I know what they are and the auction process however how does one find out what houses are qualifying for these sales? do i just find the auctions? am i allowed to go to a county tax site?

Hey @Alex Jean Baptiste  I think you need to pay a visit to the local tax collector. 

In my town I've seen a list of properties that compiled the property owners and their addresses for people that were in arrears on property taxes. It's all public knowledge because it gets printed in the news papers as part of the lien process so they shouldn't have an issue giving you the info.

I do not believe that "we" as the public have access to the county tax site, but I've had my local tax collector and assessor both give me info on properties I was interested in. I'll then cross reference the info to the towns GIS website and Registry of Deeds website to get as much data as I can.

I am a member of my local Board of Health so I've gotten to know the ladies working in the tax collector and assessor's office pretty well and they've been an amazing resources for information. I've even got them on the lookout for properties that I may be interested in!!  I'd highly recommend getting friendly with them. 

We just had a tax auction in town earlier this summer and I went to observe, it was very interesting.  The properties were all raw land but there were certainly some deals to be had, you just need to do your research ahead of time.  The auction company was Sullivan & Sullivan Auctions, they hold auctions all around Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Good luck, hope this helps.


I have bought MA tax liens.

You don't find the houses, you find the liens.  You do that by town, not by county, since taxes in MA are collected by each town, not by the county.  So you talk to the tax collector in the town, or in the case of Worcester, the auctions of the liens are on the city website.  Some towns don't sell the liens, some do it with a bid process of the entire portfolio, some sell one offs.

When you buy a tax deed in MA, (strange verbiage here in MA) you are not buying the property, you are buying the lien, and you go through a lengthy collection process, which may eventually result in a judgement at the end giving you the property, or you may have gotten paid off by then.  

But wait, there's more!  The judge can still give the property back to the taxpayer!  Ask me know I know.  :-(

Based on my and my partners' experiences, we are giving 2 presentations on tax liens at Black Diamond, including the legal process presented by a MA tax lien attorney, our process buying a portfolio of liens, and the process of going through a service to buy liens in Illinois, which pay 36%.  there is more to THAT story also.  The part 2 of the presentations will be "the rest of the story".

First presentation is at Black Diamond on Feb 20 in Waltham, I'll be posting on the BP events page.  

NH doesn't sell the liens, they sell the properties once the town owns the property itself via the tax deed process. The prior owner has a two-year redemption right, but usually, the towns don't sell the properties until that threshold has passed (not always the case.....). The towns here either sell the properties via sealed bid or auction. It's too bad we can't buy tax liens or a homeowner's right of redemption in this state, believe me, I've tried! Good luck down there in deepest Massachusetts!  :)

@Alex Jean Baptiste MA is a state that is considered "tax_taxing" and you do have to contact the municipalities or the townships to find their listing often times.  If you are looking in Boston they have a list online occasionally and there is a good site to use which is:

If you go into a county and then to the township and have the last name of the property owner you can find out what is going on with the property and if it is in the tax taking stage or not. The properties will go to the highest bidder.  Since MA is primarily a deed state that acts like a lien state with commonwealth government it's done differently but the end results will be the same as you acquire property after the redemption period is up.  Here are some of the state statutes for MA:

General Laws Section 62


Alex I'm not an expert at tax liens but I can tell you from experience that neighboring cities may handle their tax liens very differently. Smaller towns are a bit easier to deal with but in either case I recommend you reach out to an attorney and partner with them.

In Mass, 99.9% of the attorney's are also licensed agents or brokers, so they have a better understanding of the legal restrictions the city faces in a tax foreclosure proceeding.

Once you have you're attorney/partner, you set your radius and start reaching out to the Tax authorities within your radius. It may be one office that handles your determined area or like in my case their are 11 different authorities (1 for every cities and town in my radius).

Once you go meet these people and see their office and staff (the women in the office) you build a rapport with them, for the purpose of getting leads.

Also, cities and towns vary in where and how they sell their liens. Some may sell them on site and other's may do so online using a specific portal.

I pull data from several sources to identify the best possible investments based on my profile. The pictures below is a map I use that shows me where the property is and also who the councilor is in the area, what's for sale in the area, what part of town, and when i click on the property I can see the last sale date, how much it was sold for etc...

I'm mostly in the North Shore and some of these city halls are a bit outdated but the people are very friendly at least.

@Ann Bellamy   What service are you using to buy taxes in IL?  I bought in two counties this week in IL and did not get anywhere near 36%.

I don't buy in Illinois, my business partner did, and so I have only her comments to go on.  She will be going into more detail in her presentation.  Sorry I'm not more help on that, @Steve Walters .  And the promised vs actual return was quite different, I understand. 

@Steve Walters you usually have to get the 18% interest rate from the beginning to have a higher yield in IL up to 36%.  If you are purchasing less than that it may not yield the same amount.  I have seen people get 105% on their investment after several years but like I mentioned they have to have 18% from the beginning. When you are bidding down on the percentage of ownership you may not get that amount and therefore will not get the full interest yielding 36%.  IL is a good state to invest in though. 

@Josh Carr IL does not bid down on the percentage of ownership, you bid down the interest rate.  Highest bid is 18% for 6 months, but most of the counties do not go at 18%.  If you bid it in at 18% and it goes the full term, you will receive 108%, if it redeems, not counting any interest on any subsequent taxes that you might pay.

@Steve Walters You are correct. It is bid down on the interest rate.  Thanks Steve.  :)

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