Atlanta Area Tax Liens

1 Reply

I have done a fair amount of research on Tax (lien/deed) sales  especially here in the Atlanta area (Fulton Co). My target is the outer counties (Coweta, Carroll, Forsyth, Cobb, Paulding)  I attended the Coweta County sale for October and many of the properties went for near retail on say a $4k starting bid. The only properties that went for minimum bid were of very little value.  

After reading some older discussions on BP--it seems like I am missing some fundamental information. 

If a property can't be redeemed for over a year-- I assume it is it legally impossible for someone to enter into a sale of the property while there is a tax lien (hybrid deed) on it?  Also, what happens to the overage? 

Finally, if bid's are competitive on properties with no mortgage--is there value in approaching an owner to close immediately prior to sale?

Regards, Tony

@Tony Sendelbach You seem to be conflating tax liens and tax deeds, which are two different things in Georgia.  The tax lien (also called a fifa) exists prior to the tax sale and is recorded in the county's lien records - it's an unpaid debt secured by the property.  The tax deed is issued by the Sheriff to the high bidder at the tax sale and actually conveys title to the property subject to certain redemption rights you mentioned.  Tax deeds are recorded in the county real estate records.

With that distinction in mind, I'll try to answer your questions:

Properties with outstanding tax liens are sold all the time - the closing attorney pays off the tax liens with the proceeds from the sale just like he or she would pay off an outstanding mortgage or any other lien on the property.

If a property is sold at a tax sale, the previous owner can't sell it to someone else without first redeeming the tax deed.  

There could be value in approaching an owner of a tax delinquent property prior to the tax sale if you researched the title and determined that the property actually had some equity in it.  If there's no equity, the owner has no incentive to sell it to you.  After all, if they let it go to a tax sale, they still control the property for another year (due to the aforementioned redemption rights).

Consider why properties end up being sold at the tax sale.  It's not usually because the owner forgot to pay the taxes.  Tax sales are often strategic defaults where the combined liens on the property exceed the value of the property (aka negative equity or underwater).  Sometimes the tax sale is the best way to wipe out all the liens and start over with a new owner.

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