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Thread: Tax foreclosure auction questions

  1. #1
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    Tax foreclosure auction questions

    I was the high bidder in an online tax auction for a vacant house about 120 miles from here, into which I intend to move next year when I plan to leave the farm where I've been working for the last 20 years, and there are a couple of random questions that I thought I might put before the brain trust here on Sawmill Creek.

    It will be at least 10 days before my bid is approved by the county government, and up to a month before the deed is recorded. Does anyone know whether property insurance can cover a property that I don't yet own? Should I be trying to get it insured right away on Monday or should I take my time and just try to get the coverage started at the time of ownership transfer? I am not allowed on the property till the deed is recorded, so I can't have an insurance inspector look at it either, I imagine.

    What do I do about getting into the house once I am legally the owner? The nearest locksmith is nowhere close, and I'm not going to care about destroying the old locks/doorknobs, since I will need to put on new ones anyway. I have read a bit about drilling locks, and am also wondering if there is an easier way, like maybe cutting the old knob off the outside with an angle grinder or sawzall? Also, would it be wise to proactively notify the state police that I am planning to break into my own house, or should I just be prepared to show them the paperwork if they turn up?

    I've bought a lot of things at auctions but never a house (I've never even owned one before) so I am a bit out of my depth here. I'm excited to be moving up to the Adirondacks, and switching my business to full time. I'll be grateful for any advice.

  2. #2
    Just call your insurance agent and explain what's going on...

    As to your door knob problem, you only need to destroy one knob, once you're in the rest are easy

    Since it's a tax sale, getting your name on the tax rolls shouldn't be an issue.

    And, call the utilities, get that ball rolling...
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the help. Yes, that's right about only one knob. The house has two, but one has (or had) a realty lockbox on it, so I don't want to mess with that one from the outside. I don't have an insurance agent yet but I'll start calling some that are local to that area on Monday. I'll be on the tax rolls automatically, my first payment will be in January. I had thought I should wait to call about getting the electricity turned on till I had gotten into the house and found out if the wiring looks safe, but I think I heard somewhere that you can't insure a building if the power is turned off, so maybe I need to hurry up about that. This is all new to me, though working on houses is familiar.

  4. #4
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    The house has two, but one has (or had) a realty lockbox on it, so I don't want to mess with that one from the outside.
    There may be a key to the house inside the lockbox. You might try calling realtors in the area to see if any of them are the listing agent.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    Another thought, depending on the type of lock set up, many home locks are easy to pick.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 09-25-2021 at 4:06 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    Just a suggestion based on a relative's experience. You might want to call the sheriff and see if they'll check to make sure no one is squatting there.
    Hobbyist

  7. #7
    Won't the authorities who put the house up for auction give you the code for the key lockbox upon closing?

  8. #8
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    Thank you all for your help. I think the lockbox is a relic of a time when it was up for sale by a realty company of some kind. The county doesn't do anything to secure the properties in the auction as far as I know. I don't think there are squatters there, it's right in town on a 1/4 acre lot, so I think people would notice, but I don't know for sure. Someone has been mowing the lawn, though, maybe one of the neighbors?

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't do anything on a property you don't yet own. You could end up liable for damage or even arrested for trespassing.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    I wouldn't do anything on a property you don't yet own. You could end up liable for damage or even arrested for trespassing.
    Fair point. In addition to everything else, maybe touch base with the local law enforcement, let them know what's going on. Maybe they can direct you to whoever had the listing and lockbox combination.
    Last edited by Curt Harms; 09-26-2021 at 8:59 AM.

  11. #11
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    I would also avoid being on the physical premises, but yes, talk with an insurance agent. If you won the bid and paid your money, even without the deed recorded, this may be very similar to going to a regular closing on a normal real estate transaction. I'd want to be secure knowing that the investment I made for the property (money paid) is covered by insurance if at all possible due to the risks.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachary Hoyt View Post
    I was the high bidder in an online tax auction for a vacant house about 120 miles from here, into which I intend to move next year when I plan to leave the farm where I've been working for the last 20 years,
    Have you received a deed saying you are the new owner?

  13. #13
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    Are. you sure you bought the house? In my county almost all these auctions are for second or third mortgages. The only ones that were really free and clear with one mortgage or back taxes the crooked real estate folks made one bid to win. Then they went to one guy's house and bid against each other. Not a good thing when these are federal and state chartered banks. They ended up in federal prison for banking laws violation.
    The other stupid thing is it is a cash only sale, no checks, no letter of credit. I think they have changed that and allow payment ,in cash latter that day.
    If it was really a taxes owned auction then you bought it free and clear. My brother did that in Oregon and the great thing is the government ownership cancels any liens or mortgages etc. So they can not try to say they have an existing payment due.
    Bill D

  14. #14
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    Yes, I am not allowed on the property till the deed is recorded. Once it is recorded I will need to get into the house, and I have a small roof to replace before winter so I am hoping it can be done relatively quickly. I'll call the county real property tax office in the morning and find out if they record the deeds as the payments are received or if they wait till the end of the payment period and then do them all at once.

    There were 100 properties in this auction, all being sold for unpaid property taxes. The county takes ownership through a court process after two years of delinquency and the properties are auctioned. The money goes to the county, they issue a quitclaim deed to the buyer (me, in this case) and the property is back to having its taxes paid by the new owner. It may be different in other states, I imagine. This year with the real estate market so high the sale prices in the tax auction were also pretty high, so the county should have done well out of the auction, I think.

    There are three insurance agencies in the nearby larger town, and I will need to call them all and talk with them about my current and potential future situation (vacant house now, primary residence with home occupation next year). Again I have to wait till Monday, since the auction ended Saturday afternoon. I also need to call the town clerk to pay any outstanding water bills, email the building inspector with several initial questions, and on and on. It's exciting but also a bit overwhelming to figure out everything that needs to be done and what is the first priority.

  15. #15
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    I don't know how it works in your state but here properties sold for unpaid taxes have a 2 year redemption period for the owner of record. Only after the 2 year period do you actually get the property. You simply get a high interest rate for your money. Usually 10% or better. When they pay their back taxes you get a minimum amount and if it's closer to the end of the 2 year period it's substantially more. In many cases lenders buy the property to protect their interest. I hope it's as simple as you make it sound. The county here get's the delinquent funds relatively quickly instead of having to wait the 2 years to take action. I don't pretend to know how it works in your state. Good luck.

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