Sure. You have two routes. Either you contact the current owner directly or you contact the taxing entity (either directly or if there is litigation, through the lawyers involved). Really, it is not as easy as it sounds because in most of Texas, there are hundreds of people trying to do exactly what you are doing from all directions. Few viable or economically valuable properties often remain by the actual time of the auction. I have assisted Clients in all respects as an Attorney and also Real Estate Agent. It is not that easy to actually get what you want and I've also done legal work to try to get people out of what they bought. Recognize that there are multi-million Dollar investment firms that have full time staff monitoring all the Texas and US sales. In fact, some of the wealthiest people in town are buying the expensive homes as investments. If the owner wants to buy it back within the redemption period, they must pay a 25% premium. So, that can be a return on investment of 25% or 50% a year, certainly much higher than a CD rate.
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You ask two great questions. To start, I will guess you are asking about local property taxes. That is probably the most common reason properties are sold for taxes.
And I will respond first about buying the house before it goes to auction for taxes - yes, the property can be purchased before it goes to auction. Expect then to have to deal with the old taxes as the new owner. A lawyer can help there. Also, if there is enough time, it may be closed through a title company.
But of course, I can talk about property sold by the Texas Comptroller for the many taxes they have to collect. And there also the federal IRS tax sales for tax liens. There is a different process that they use for conducting their sales.
The question asks for information. To get information so you can understand about the tax auction process and what you can be dealing with, then please see this link (also below):
That information is from the law firm that handles the process and the most tax collection cases in Texas.
But of course, there can be a different process if property you want to buy at a tax sale is in a different jurisdiction or the tax collection case was by a different law firm.
While the basic process is easy to explain, there are many rules that apply to the process. And so, to avoid surprises as much as possible, know and understand as best you can the Texas Tax Code sections that apply to tax sales.
Finding a lawyer with experience in the area to provide you information may be a good investment in education. Your own lawyer can be more forthcoming than another person that is an investor. Another investor may know a lot about the process but want to protect their own position in the marketplace. There are many other savvy investors with years of experience. And they will be your competition.
In the event you become at all active in the area, expect to eventually need the services of a lawyer experienced in the area. For many reasons there are common problems with tax sales and they require return trips to the court for changes and corrections.
Also, I agree with the information you’ve already been provided here on Avvo: the taxing authorities and the persons that already own the property before the tax sale are great places to start when you are ready to start getting ready for the tax sale and know the properties that look like good ones to buy.
The foregoing comments are provided for informational purposes only, and without a fee agreement and fees paid there is no attorney-client relationship being made and no legal services will be provided now or later.
If it is being sold for failure to pay local taxes, then call the county tax assessor or collector. Make sure that they are telling you the information for all local taxing authorities (ISD, Hospitals, MUD's, County, City, Colleges, etc.) That should give you a pretty good idea. You should probably hire an attorney. You should definitely run it through a title company.
The above statements are provided as general information and not intended as legal advice. Each matter has its own set of unique circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed without consultation. You are strongly advised to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to represent you.