Arizona tax liens foreclosing

15 Replies

Hi, new to this and about to foreclose two tax liens in Navajo county raw land. I saw here that an investor offers to purchase before she starts foreclosure to avoid going through the courts and nice that the owner at least gets something. I asked Navajo county about that before seeing this and I can't believe this is right. They said I am not to contact the owner to purchase once I own a tax lien, only other people or even other competition investors can contact the owner. I can contact other investor's owners to purchase but not my own tax lien owners. This can't be right!!!!! I don't want to go through the hassle of foreclosing and I'd rather give the $218. filing fee to the owner if they will quit claim. If someone else in Arizona is doing this, it has got to be OK. I would think it is even higher ethics. But to be ok toy buy out another investor's investment? that seems shady if your competitor won a tax lien and now I go and contact the owner to buy. Then the county said well, you can't say you own the tax lien. Really????? The wording on the website is that you don't have a right to be on the property or even talk to the owner. I think the county is misinterpreting their own words. I think this means you have no right to their land and to harass them or pressure them to pay. But to offer to buy instead of them getting nothing? And I can't believe I can't say I have the tax lien and am about to foreclose and would rather pay them then the courts if they aren't going to redeem and want to quit title. So assuming it is OK and even nice for the owners if I do so, should I just call or send a letter or should I send it with the intent to foreclose? I think I should send it before the intent to foreclose notice because that also gets filed with the treasurer. Then they might tell me I did wrong. Any advice, please?!!

Rules not always make sense. We own a few tax liens in Maricopa county and yes you are not supposed to contact the land owner regarding payoff. We have had some tax lien investors buy from us tax liens so they can do their transaction. My guess was they got in touch with land owner before they bought our tax lien and made a deal with them and after purchased our tax lien. So they did not break any rules since they did not own our tax lien initially.  We still have a few tax liens there that are eligible for foreclosure and we probably will be sending out intent letters to make owners aware unless of course we sell them to other savy investors before we need to do that.

How many people are prosecuted for contacting the owner of a lien they own? I think that will give you the answer you seek.

If your still concerned get a friend to do the contacting and if the previous owner is willing to work with you show up as your friends partner and put the QC deed in your name, or put it in your friends name and then transfer to you.

@Karen D. Schiano  

The wording on the website is that you don't have a right to be on the property or even talk to the owner

There is a difference between a right and the ability.  A girl scout does not have the right to be on your property. You can ask her to leave at any time. However it is perfectly legal for a girl scout to knock on your door and ask if you want to buy cookies unless you have previously asked her to leave. 

That said, I don't know the law there. You can go with the practical advice or @John Underwood or contact an attorney for the true legal answer.

Thanks so much for the answers.  I don't know how to respond to each individually so, Roman M.   So glad you know Arizona tax lien rules!   When you say not contact regarding payoff, I think that means that I can't contact asking THEM to payoff but are you saying can't contact them saying I'll pay off (absorb the delinquent taxes I've paid plus any outstanding from current year) plus offer  to purchase for $300. which around here most would take because they are just letting these remote lands go anyway with access problems, instead of using the $300. to file and foreclose and they get nothing? I would think those investors bought the property with the tax lien on it from the owner and then paid the tax lien off to the county which of course would come to you.  I'm not sure why they would go through you unless they were wanting to foreclose on it if it was ready or they wanted to wait and see?  I know the owners can still sell their property with the tax lien on it and the buyer take responsibility to pay it off.........unless the law is different elsewhere, they are still the owners and can sell it with the tax lien attached.  The buyer assumes responsibility to pay the taxes and if the buyer doesn't pay it, then in time it could go to foreclosure....  So I can't contact with an offer to purchase, it is considered contacting the landowner regarding payoff?  Thanks, I hope you'll answer...

John Greer:  I have no idea how many are prosecuted but the way the county was sounding, pretty sure they would revoke my investor privileges if I broke rules....The idea to have a friend make the offer makes sense.  I thought of that and guess it would not break any rules but if the county is watching, they'll figure it out but I guess it's ok....In the future I plan on contacting owners before it goes to tax lien sale if it's a parcel I'm willing to pay more for then what I could get it for if foreclosure is imminent.  A parcel that I want to keep for myself.  A parcel I really wanted adjacent to a parcel I own went by tie to another investor so I'm planning on offering a little more for this remote inaccessible but spectacular property.  Only problem with that one is the owner is deceased so I will have to track down heirs and see if they can get title to it and then sell it to me.  It was a 0 per cent deal as I really wanted it and why the other investor wanted it I don't know, he isn't going to make anything if redeemed by heir and he either doesn't know it has no access and is all hills (but an artist like me's dream and I will climb over the hills to get to what parts I can for a remote retreat), or will just sell it without being honest about it to someone who says wow 40 acres for 4000. or 100. a month like so many do..............

@Karen D. Schiano - I'm an Arizona tax lien investor and the statutes are what you have been told; you as a tax lien holder may not contact the owner regarding the property. That includes asking about payoff of the lien or buying the property. It's an easy lawsuit for them to file, if they know, or if someone tells them about the statute. The courts will protect the owner before you - the tax lien holder.

You might be able to contact them about buying the property if they list the property for sale before the redemption period is up. But I would contact an attorney to get clarification before I would do that. That is not specifically noted in the statute, so they could file a lawsuit if they found out you held the tax lien. 

@Jerry K.   Thank you so much.  Could you give me the statute please?  Because now there is a conflict. I called Apache County Treasurer and Dawn Yarosh yesterday who definitively told me I can contact them offering to purchase the property if they don't want to redeem rather than go to foreclosure, adding "It's public information".  You are saying the owner could sue me for offering to purchase, being upfront that they can still redeem but if they are not wanting to redeem or sell to someone else? Like sending the Intent to Foreclose letter and adding Offer to purchase on another page or sending each under separate cover?    Please send me the statute number.  

In the case of a deceased person I am working on I told the funeral home that I was seeking to find next of kin regarding property deceased has to serve foreclosure papers (and probably shouldn't have added or offer to purchase if they don't want to redeem) and they are going to ask the relative who made the funeral arrangements to call me. I can't see why they would call me without me giving a reason and the funeral home would have asked if I didn't volunteer the info and lying is out......there is no probate in the county Navajo where the land is nor the county Maricopa where he last lived and instructions say to find the heirs and also in the case of being unable to locate someone to attempt to talk to relatives. No one is going to give me info unless I tell them why I am searching for the person and if I just say a legal matter alot of people would hide.

@Karen D. Schiano I haven't looked up the statute yet, but what you described is acceptable - where you offer to buy when you send the "Intent to Foreclose letter". That is the first step of foreclosure in AZ (which is when you can can contact them) and my attorney sends the letter for me. Added in the letter is language to contact us if they have no intention to redeem. I'm going by what my attorney has advised me. If the county said you can contact them before the redemption period is over (before your Intent to Foreclose letter is sent) I'll leave that to you to decide. I'm not an attorney and I highly recommend talking with one. There are people who do their own tax lien foreclosures - I choose not to do that since I don't have the expertise or time to do it correctly on my own.

@Jerry K.  Ok thanks, you've been doing this so I will go with what your lawyer does.  If he adds it in the letter, then that letter is also sent to the treasurer as per rules so they would know.  Just in case I'm going to enclose a separate letter. or maybe I should include it in the letter; there might be some rule that I have to copy all correspondence.    That's exactly when I wanted to contact them though, not before, to give an option.   One problem was I was seeing the redemption period over as when a judgment for deed (or not) is received because they can still redeem til then so there'd be no sense in contacting then as I'd own the property.   Nevertheless, I read all tax lien state statues and found nothing about not contacting, it is written as "you should know" to investors on the Navajo County website so I don't know that it is really a rule, but just a clarification that investors don't own the property  and are not to harass for payment.  But if that's what the county says, I'll go with that.   Thanks for all your help!

@Roman M.  Thanks for the response.  Right doesn't mean prohibited, and that was the question as another person here had pointed out.  It's really not clear to me from reading that that it isn't prohibited but saying you don't have a right to go up and say I have a tax lien, I have a right to talk to you (and harass to pay).......There are a lot of people who think when they are buying a lien they are buying the property and have a right to be on it and talk to owner according to the county.  I have no right to make them sell but to make an offer so if they aren't going to redeem?, that is not clear to me, anyway I'm going to go with the word that I can make that offer to purchase with the foreclosure letter as @Jerry K said his lawyer does  if they are not going to redeem so they can at least get the filing fees and we all bypass foreclosure.  Thanks so much!

have you read state statutes regarding what you can and cannot do? 

I did not read it and will not waste my time on it. 

If you feel like contacting the owner regardless of what the county tells you then it's your choice.  No one can stop you. 

Best of luck. 

@Roman M.  No I posted that I am not contacting them until it's permissible by what the county says.   I think my prolongued exploration of it shows I do not want to do anything against rules or I would just do it and not care.   Jerry K. verified that his attorney gives the option to contact if not redeeming  in AZ in the foreclosure letter as permissible at that point,, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.  I don't know what makes you think I am going to go against county, I'm just saying it isn't a statute and wasn't clear because Apache county says it's permissible and Navajo county only when redemption period is up and  state statues are across counties so it presented a conflict.  Thanks, have a nice day.

@ Jerry K   if you would, could I possibly see one of the foreclosure letters if you have one (deleting names, etc  if not public court records) with the added  invitation to contact if no intent to redeem?  to see the wording.....  I'm not able to put any email or phone here so don't know how you could send that except to say I go by Tea Schiano and you could find me on my  Facebook  artist page  Tea Schiano Aritist  gives contact and can also private message there if it is OK to give that info here.  

  If you don't have or want to send a sample,  could you give me the name and contact for your attorney that you use for tax lien foreclosures in Arizona (Navajo County if you've foreclosed there) ?  Don't know if that's ok to give here either? I can do a consultation then.  

I'm also wondering how often you get owners that aren't going to redeem taking up the offer?   I'd think they would but right now I'm having trouble finding next of kin names and mailing because other relative says the siblings don't want to be bothered with deceased remote low value land or even getting notification I have to give to move forward and foreclose.  Thanks for all our help.

@Karen D. Schiano - sorry, been off line for a couple of days. I'll track a letter down. I have had so few liens get to foreclosure that I have not had anyone reach out to sell the property. They only have redeemed the lien once the Intent to Foreclose was sent. I have sold liens to other investors where I did know the property owners had passed away. These were vacant residential lots that were worth about the same as the amount I had paid in liens plus what attorney costs would have been to foreclose. The buyers lived next to the parcels and bought the liens so they could foreclose and add the land to their property.

The other reason I like using an attorney for the foreclosure was I paid them to send the Letter of Intent to Foreclose. They have paralegals who do what is legally necessary to try and track down all relatives and other known lien holders to send the letter. This way if I was to win the foreclosure and somebody later popped up to claim they were never notified, the attorney can back up they did the correct research and notification.