Momentum - Business to Business Online Magazine - Page 18

Purchasing Tax Sale Properties By: Cheryl E. Johnson, PCC Galveston Co. Tax Assessor Collector Cheryl.E.Johnson@co.galveston.tx.us Considering purchasing a property at a tax sale? The most important advice I can give is - do your homework (and read this article). Collection of delinquent property taxes and foreclosure of liens are governed by statute and procedural rules under Texas law. Before being sold by the Sheriff (Constable in some counties), a variety of steps occur including multiple delinquent notices being sent both by tax offices and delinquent law firms but when these steps fail, tax lien foreclosure proceedings begin. It is important to note that not all properties sold by the Sheriff are tax sales; they may include sales for nonpayment of homeowner association fees or an execution sale for nonpayment of an obligation created by a judgment. A. Sheriff Sales are open to the public and conducted the first Tuesday of each month at 10 am in Commissioner’s Courtroom, County Courthouse, 722 Moody, Galveston. Properties offered for sale are advertised 21 days in advance in The Post Newspaper and can be found both in paper form and online at www.thepostnewspaper.net.A listing of properties is available on the County Sheriff’s website (www.co.galveston.tx.us/Sheriff then click on Sheriff Sales/Sale Listing). More detailed information is available at the County’s delinquent law firm website (www.taxsales.lgbs.com) or Friendswood and Dickinson ISD’s delinquent law firm website (pbfcm.com). B. Once you find a property, it is your responsibility to perform research and to discover any deficiencies (encroachments of buildings that may be obvious on the plat or aerial of the property, environmental hazards, etc.). Since properties are sold “as is” exterior inspection is strongly encouraged as it is not likely interior inspection will be possible. In addition to a drive-by, visit the county appraisal district to determine whether information is available about the property condition. Review tax records to determine whether additional years of taxes (outside of the lawsuit years) are due. This information is available online at www.galcotax.com. It is important to note that tax liens are superior to all others and, when sold, causes all other liens and claims included in the lawsuit to be extinguished. Remember that this applies only to tax sales. C. On sale day, potential bidders are required to register with the Sheriff staff conducting the sale in order to obtain a bidder number. At promptly 10 am, a deputy will read the legal description of the property and state the minimum bid (taxes + penalty + interest + attorney fees + court + advertising costs OR the most recent tax appraised value as determined by the tax judgment – whichever is less). Successful bidders must remit full payment on sale day by 4 pm (cash, cashier’s check or money order payable to Galveston County Sheriff’s Office). If the winning bidder does not pay by 4 pm, the bid is forfeited and the property will be resold between 4:15 and 5 pm at the Courthouse. If there is no bidder at the second sale, the property is struck off to a taxing entity.