Can you REALLY get Properties via Tax Lien Certificates?

Can you REALLY get Properties via Tax Lien Certificates?

I recently came upon a great opinion piece from the Denver Post entitled “What Tax Liens Really Mean” by Diane Holbert and John Lefebrve.  It’s an article I wanted to write but they sum up the points I was going to make pretty well.  

It’s rare to get a deed out of buying tax lien certificates.  Very rare.  All the hype out there about buying properties at pennies on the dollar is really misleading new investors and brings a bad name to investors who buy tax lien certificates.  In fact, tax liens are one of the few markets out there that isn’t controlled by large institutions, marketing budgets and crony capitalism.  Plus, individual investors can make a reasonable return compared to the volatility of the stock market and/or bank accounts.

Here are a couple great points from the article focusing on Colorado tax lien certicates but this could be applicable anywhere:

In Colorado, one is more likely to be struck by lightning than lose one’s home to a tax lien investor.

Douglas County sells approximately 1,275 tax liens annually, yet has has issued only four treasurer’s deeds involving a structure over 14 years. Two may have been occupied, one was a carport, and the fourth was a cabin on public land.

Arapahoe County sold 20,000 tax liens over the past 11 years, yet has issued only 11 treasurer’s deeds (condition and occupancy unknown).

Jefferson County sells about 2,087 tax liens annually, and has issued only five treasurer’s deeds involving a structure. Those were: an uninhabited, boarded-up, four-unit multifamily dwelling; a home that had to be gutted due to excessive animal waste; a mountain property crushed by a tree; a dwelling scheduled for demolition by the city, once the wild animals were removed; and one which housed an occupant whose family was unwilling to help her maintain her residence.

Weld County sells an average of about 4,000 tax liens a year. In the past 30 years, it has issued only four treasurer’s deeds on improved property (condition unknown).

Pueblo County has issued only 17 treasurer’s deeds with improvements over the past 19 years. All were uninhabitable or the owners were uninterested in keeping the property.

Broomfield County has never issued any treasurer’s deeds on property with structures.

Rio Blanco County issued one deed in 12 years which contained a structure and was condemned for health reasons.

Rio Grande County has no record of a treasurer’s deed being issued.

Ouray County has issued one on a property unoccupied since 1985.

Lincoln County transferred six properties with structures on them in the past 11 years. Most did not contain any humans, doors or windows.

Phillips County transferred five properties by treasurer’s deeds with improvements over the past 10 years. They were uninhabitable (unless you count the 125 cats), and the others were already condemned.

 Read more: Guest Commentary: What tax liens really mean – The Denver Post