Lately, I am getting a lot of calls about tax sales. It is no coincidence that CivicSource recently conducted a property tax auction in Orleans Parish. Tax sales involve a lot of moving parts and unfortunately they don’t all work together. Let’s look further into this.
After the tax sale while you are waiting for the three year redemption period to run you are going to have to protect your investment by paying each subsequent year’s taxes.
However, if the property has housing violations you as the tax sale purchaser may receive notices from New Orleans Code Enforcement about a hearing. If you do not remediate these issues the property may be burdened with fines and penalties. Even worse, the City will not accept your payment of subsequent year’s taxes without payment of the Code Enforcement lien. This is horribly unfair – to expect a non-owner to fix up a property – but it is how the City operates.
There are two roads to reward with a tax sale. If the owners redeem the property within the three year redemption period you make a nice return. Your investment back, plus 5% penalty and 1% per month interest. Twelve (12%) interest is not bad in this economy.
If they do not redeem, what next? The law provides that you can quiet the title to your tax sale purchase. This is the lure for many people – to get property inexpensively. But there are problems here too. The due process clauses in our Federal and State Constitutions work against the tax sale purchaser. As currently interpreted by our courts due process requires that reasonable attempts be made to notify every stake holder in the property prior to the tax sale. Often, this doesn’t happen. Most title companies just assume that tax titles are flawed and will not write title insurance on it.
I find that the people who invest in multiple tax sale certificates do best at these auctions. They win on some and lose on others. The purchasers of sole tax sale certificates sometimes lose their entire investments.