Buying Home That Is Behind On Back Taxes

Q: There is a program on television once a week. The host of the show tells viewers that they can buy any home that is behind on back taxes for the amount of taxes that is owed. Is this true?

A: Technically, yes. All homeowners must pay their real estate taxes each year. If you don’t pay your real estate taxes, the tax collector can seize your house and sell it for the back taxes that are owed.

In most places, the taxes have to have been unpaid for at least a year or two and the homeowner has the right to catch up on the taxes by paying the interest that has accumulated plus any penalties or fees.

In general, if the homeowner fails to pay the back taxes owed in the specified period of time, these properties are typically sold for the back taxes, and anyone can buy them.

But there’s a catch (you knew there would be!). Once you have bought a house by paying the back taxes, there is a period of time where the homeowner has the right to catch up with the payments and pay you back your investment plus interest. If that doesn’t happen, you own the property free and clear and can evict the former homeowner (if they’re still living in the property).

For more details, talk to your local sheriff’s office or municipal government office in your area that handles the tax sales or find a real estate attorney who works with real estate investors who buy properties this way. The sheriff’s office typically sells property that is behind in real estate tax payments, and should be able to provide you with the information you need to start playing this game.

A word of warning: It’s been my experience that folks who cannot afford to pay their real estate property taxes also don’t have the money to make their mortgage payments (if they have a loan on the property) or maintain their property.

While it may seem as though you’re picking up the property for very little cash, you are likely stepping into a quagmire. Some savvy people have done very well in this area but others have found out that the bargain they thought they got was really a lemon.

*Have you had luck buying a home that is behind on its taxes?” Leave us your success or failure comments below. Thanks


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6 Responses to Buying Home That Is Behind On Back Taxes

  1. Real says:

    Again this is what makes america the most greediest countries in the world. It is not the Government we know we over give outside and to immagrants, It’s not the common people most would and have given their lives. It’s the business tactics they cause more ilness, suicide, devorce, depression, homelessness, drug abuse to name a few in the name of residual income. If they can afford to sell a home for back taxes why can’t they sell it to the origanal owners They don’t get a penny more except greed satisfied bank right off. New owner I am a great BUSINESS PERSON???

    • Miranda Ledbetter says:

      I agree! I’m buying a house Contract for Deed and the previous owner was behind on taxes. I went to the tax company, in November to pay half the money and was refused and told they would get a hold of me, Well, they did. AFTER, they bought my house! I have two weeks to come up with 6000 dollars or get evicted. I have 3 kids and work 2 jobs. If I had 6000 dollars, I would have paid ALL the taxes. I’m screwed! Please, help me!

  2. Cynthia forst says:

    I just received news that my Mother’s home is being bought by paying back taxes. She owe’s the home but has been in a nursing home. And the state has a lein on it . Can this home still be sold ? I don’t know what steps I should take i would hate to lose this home. PLEASE HELP!

  3. Joey says:

    To: Cynthia Forst go to the county court house and go to delinquent property tax office and find out what the tax is on your mother’s house and pay it and then the lien will come off and t he person that bought the lien will only be paid interest on the amount they paid for the lien… but will not own it….and then you would stop the sale. for the article dated January 25th, 2012

  4. Joey says:

    and for “REAL” the home owner was given the legitimate opportunity to just pay what they signed the contract for and when they defaulted they lost that right.. It is in the contract and that is why we all sign contracts…ignorance is no excuse and to expect a lender to just basically give it to them or let them buy it when they could not even pay the taxes on it is stupid..if we did such a thing when people knowingly do wrong to just say oh it is ok we forgive you we will just let you live in this house that you agreed to pay for for free…. that is not reality and is so stupid to think such.

  5. debbie says:

    i found a house 4 back taxes man dont want it wife says get rid of it if i just pay off taxes how long do i wait 2 move in or will it b mine

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