Question for anyone familiar with Philly Sheriff Sales??

4 Replies

Someone in my neighborhood (Germantown section of Philly) is concerned about a vacant/deteriorated property with a large tax balance. While this person would not want to buy it personally, there's been a lot of activity here lately and someone else very well might. Anyone familiar with Sheriff Sales here? My questions are:

-Is the opening bid necessarily equal to the amount of taxes owed? Can people bid lower than the opening bid, if they are the only interested party? In this case it sounds like the tax balance may actually be higher than the value of the property.

-What is the process to bring a property to Sheriff Sale?

-Is there a way you know of for a concerned neighbor, who would not necessarily wish to bid themselves, to bring attention to the issue and encourage the City to expedite their normal Sheriff Sale process? (As opposed to actually "forcing" the sale)?

And any other tips/thoughts would be appreciated as well! Thanks for reading!

I'm assuming the neighbor has already called L & I.

@Nancy Larcom

Have you or the someone in your neighborhood looked into negotiating an offer in compromise with the city to essentially lower the debt owed and make it more appealing to a buyer? I don't know much about it, but I know that it's possible (not sure how often it actually happens though...)

@John Matthews Thanks for the idea! That actually rings a bell. I believe someone I know negotiated a sale with an owner, in which he also negotiated down the debt with the city in order to make the purchase work. A good idea for sure if doable! I don't know how this particular person managed to be so successful in his various negotiations with city agencies, etc, or whether others can do the same? (I even hear he was successful with the PPA once, but perhaps this is an urban legend...)

In general, I far prefer the idea of working directly with the owner whenever possible rather than trying to go through city bureaucracy.

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