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Property Tax Sales and Seizures

Texas Tax Sales FAQ

 

IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION REGARDING THE ELIGIBILITY OF PERSONS TO PURCHASE PROPERTY AT TEXAS TAX SALES CONDUCTED IN COUNTIES WITH A POPULATION OF 250,000 OR MORE AND IN LESS POPULATED COUNTIES THAT HAVE ADOPTED THE PROVISIONS OF SEC. 34.015, TEX. TAX CODE
In such counties, purchasers at tax sales must present to the sheriff or constable conducting the sale a written statement issued to the purchaser by the county tax assessor-collector stating that the purchaser owes no delinquent property taxes to the county and that there are no known or reported delinquent taxes owed by the purchaser to any school district or city with territory in the county.  State law further prohibits the sheriff or constable in such counties from delivering a tax deed to any purchaser who fails to present to the officer the required written statement issued by the county tax assessor-collector.  IN ORDER TO SECURE THE REQUIRED WRITTEN STATEMENT FROM THE COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR REGARDING YOUR DELINQUENT TAX LIABILITY IN ANY COUNTY OTHER THAN HARRIS COUNTY OR FORT BEND COUNTY, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE REQUEST FORM THAT YOU MUST COMPLETE, HAVE NOTARIZED, AND PRESENT TO THE COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR-COLLECTOR, ALONG WITH A PAYMENT OF THE STATUTORY FEE OF $10.00.

For HARRIS COUNTY tax sales, CLICK HERE for a link to the Harris County Tax Assessor's website where you will find a request form that you may download and print.

For FORT BEND COUNTY tax sales, CLICK HERE to download the request form, CLICK HERE to download attachment A and CLICK HERE to download attachment B to the request form.

You are urged to submit the request form to the county tax assessor-collector well in advance of the tax sale at which you intend to bid.  Again, these requirements apply only in those counties with a population of 250,000 or more and in those less populated counties that have adopted the provisions of Sec. 34.015.  If you are unsure as to whether these requirements apply in a certain county, you may check with the office of the county’s tax assessor-collector.

WHEN AND WHERE ARE YOUR TAX SALES ADVERTISED?
They are advertised three times prior to the auction in a newspaper published in the county where the property is located. In Harris County, that publication is the Daily Court Review. It is available online at www.dailycourtreview.com. The number for the Daily Court Review is (713) 869-5434 if you would like to subscribe.

In Dallas County, sale notices are published in The Daily Commercial Records. To subscribe to that publication, call (214) 741-6366 or subscribe online at www.dailycommercialrecord.com.

In Bexar County (San Antonio), notices are published in The Daily Commercial Recorder, to which you can subscribe by calling (210) 534-8848. The website is located here for additional information.

In addition, some sales are posted at here.

WHEN AND WHERE ARE TAX SALES CONDUCTED?
Public Tax Sales may only be conducted on the first Tuesday of any month at the courthouse of the county in which the property is located. As to the specific time and location at the courthouse, you must refer to the published notice of sale in the newspapers referenced above.

WHAT IF I PURCHASE A PROPERTY THAT IS ENCUMBERED BY A MORTGAGE OR OTHER LIENS?
Our firm's practice is generally to conduct a title search prior to filing tax suits on behalf of our taxing unit clients and, if we discover an outstanding lien, the holder of that lien is generally made a party and served with citation with a view toward having the tax judgment and tax sale extinguish and terminate that lien interest. However, there is no guarantee that all ownership or lien interests have been accounted for and extinguished by the judgment, nor can we guarantee against any other possible defects in the tax sale or in the underlying judgment on which the sale is based. ALL SALES ARE CONSIDERED FINAL BY THE OFFICER CONDUCTING THE SALE, AND ALL SALES ARE WITHOUT WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. We urge you to independently verify the quality of the title you expect to receive by commissioning your own title search and by engaging your own attorney to examine all papers on file with the court in the underlying tax foreclosure suit.

IS PAYMENT IN FULL REQUIRED ON THE DAY OF THE SALE?
The judgment amount and all associated costs that constitute the "minimum bid" must be paid. However, the time allowed for the collection of adequate funds varies among officers who conduct tax sales. Some allow 1-2 hours, while others require the full amount paid at the time the successful bid is made.
In Harris County, payment must be by cash or cashier's check. If the cashier's check is for more than the amount of the bid, the Constable will refund the excess money. Many people find it convenient to bring a cashier's check made out to themselves for the amount of the minimum bid, and cash for any additional amounts they are willing to bid. If an investor is the successful bidder then he/she can endorse the cashier's check to the Constable. In some other counties, the officers will accept personal checks. Your best bet is to call the officer and ask in advance.

WHAT IS THE BIDDING PROCESS?
There is no formal bidding process. Oral bids are made consecutively by whoever can raise the last bid made, the same as in auctions generally. All sales will be to the highest bidder. The officer begins by announcing the sale and the official minimum opening bid, and then asks for bidders. If you open the bidding by offering the minimum opening bid, then others may raise the bid. Then, you can decide whether you want to continue bidding against them by offering a higher bid(s).

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM BID I SHOULD EXPECT TO PAY?
The "minimum bid" varies from property to property. The exact minimum bid is determined by the officer conducting the sale prior to the sale, and is announced at the sale. Unless there are "credits", you should expect to pay an amount that is the total of all amounts due in the judgment, penalty and interest, attorney fees, court costs, title costs, Constable/Sheriff fees, and posting fees.

DOES YOUR LAW FIRM OFFER A FINANCING PROGRAM OR ANY DISCOUNTS?
No. However, we may offer a payment arrangement plan for successful buyers of property at a Tax Sale for tax years not included in the judgment (i.e. taxes which accrue after the judgment).

WHAT TYPE OF OWNERSHIP DOCUMENT IS ISSUED AT THE SALE?
The successful bidder on a property will be issued a Constable's Deed or Sheriff's Deed within 4 to 6 weeks after the auction date. It is provided by § 34.01(n) of the Texas Property Tax Code that:

"The deed vests good and perfect title in the purchaser or the purchaser's assigns to the interest owned by the defendant in the property subject to the foreclosure, including the defendant's right to the use and possession of the property, subject only to the defendant's right of redemption, the terms of a recorded restrictive covenant running with the land that was recorded before January 1 of the year in which the tax lien on the property arose, a recorded lien that arose under that restrictive covenant that was not extinguished in the judgment foreclosing the tax lien, and each valid easement of record as of the date of the sale that was recorded before January 1 of the year the tax lien arose. The deed may be impeached only for fraud."

For further information regarding the meaning of this statutory provision, please consult your own attorney.

If taxes have accrued against the property since the time of foreclosure judgment (i.e. "post judgment taxes"), the tax sale purchaser is considered by the taxing jurisdictions to have taken title subject to any such post-judgment taxes.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PROPERTIES THAT ARE NOT SOLD AT THE AUCTION?
In some cases, if no one bids upon a property, the property will be withdrawn from sale. In other instances, the property may be struck-off to the taxing jurisdiction that requested the Order of Sale. The struck-off property would then be owned jointly by all taxing jurisdictions that participated in the tax suit, and then later will be offered for resale as a struck-off property.

HOW DO I GET A LIST OF PROPERTIES STRUCK-OFF AT AUCTION AND NOW HELD FOR RESALE?
With respect to property located in most counties, your two best sources of information are: (1) the tax assessor-collector's office and (2) the office of our firm handling the business of taxing jurisdictions located in that county. There are some counties in which the taxing jurisdictions entertain "private resales" in that they will consider written offers to purchase on a case by case basis as those offers are received. Other counties utilize a sealed bid procedure from time to time.
In Harris County, along with some other counties, resales of struck off properties are conducted by a second public auction. Notices of those resale auctions are advertised in The Daily Court Review as they become scheduled, and those auction notices will also ultimately become available online at www.publicans.com (our firm's website) as and when scheduled. A list of Harris County properties is not currently published.

HOW DO I FIND OUT THE RESULTS OF A TAX SALE AUCTION, INCLUDING WHICH PROPERTIES SOLD, TO WHOM, AND FOR WHAT AMOUNT?
We regret that we cannot furnish this information. However, the underlying papers for each separate tax suit on file with the court in the district clerk's office are public records. Those papers will include an officer's return on the order of sale which will give all information regarding the sale outcome. You will need the cause number for the tax suit in order to retrieve the information.

WHAT IF I PURCHASE PROPERTY AT A TAX SALE, AND THE FORMER OWNERS OF THE PROPERTY THEN WANT TO "REDEEM" THE PROPERTY?
We cannot give you any legal advice regarding that matter, except to advise you to seek your own legal counsel if you are unsure of the redemption period applicable to the property and/or the amounts to which you are entitled upon redemption by the former owner.

IF I PURCHASE PROPERTY AT A TAX SALE AND LATER BECOME DISSATISFIED WITH THE PROPERTY, MAY I CANCEL THE SALE AND HAVE A REFUND OF THE PURCHASE PRICE?
The officers who conduct tax sales regard those sales as final and not subject to rescission due to the purchaser's mistake or dissatisfaction with regards to the property.

WILL I BE ABLE TO GET TITLE INSURANCE ON PROPERTY I PURCHASE AT A TAX SALE?
We cannot guarantee that title insurance will be available. Underwriting practices vary from one company to the next with regards to tax sale property. If the availability of title insurance is of paramount importance to you, we urge that you explore that matter with a title company of your choice prior to any tax sale purchase.

The foregoing material is strictly for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice or services.  Use of any of the foregoing information does not create an attorney-client relationship.  You should not act on the information provided without seeking legal counsel of your choice.  The law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP represents a number of taxing jurisdictions. We do not represent taxpayers, purchasers of judgment property, or any other outside interests.  For further information, please contact your attorney.