Every state secures the tax lien with the property that it represents and in most states tax certificates are the senior liens against a property. If the property owner fails to repay the certificate, you are entitled to apply for a deed and ultimately foreclose on the property, regardless of any other liens or obligations on the property.
The first way to identify tax lien certificates that are not likely to be redeemed by seeking out properties that have been abandoned by the owner. One way to determine if a property has been abandoned is to visit the county tax office and ask to see the returned letters file. In all tax certificate states, the county treasurer or county tax offices will mail out notices to property owners informing them that if they do not pay their delinquent taxes, a lien will be sold on the property.
Another way to identify tax certificates that are not likely to be redeemed is to buy them over the counter at the county tax office instead of at a tax lien sale. These kinds of certificates are usually sold the following business day, over the counter, if they were left unpurchased at the auction. Use caution in buying tax certificates over the counter, there usually is a reason that the certificate was not sold at the sale.
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