Tax Lien Certificates

June 30, 2007 by Joe Ponzio

I certainly won’t say it’s impossible; but, it is extremely difficult. While some experienced people can make money with tax certificates, the problems the individual investor faces today are numerous:

  1. You are up against institutions. They bid the % on the certificates to 0% so you can forget about 1st year income;
  2. Once you have the certificate, generally more than 99% of them will repay their taxes/become current in the first 6 months. Of the remaining, 90% of them will get current by the end of the first year.
  3. While you hold the certificate, you will have very strict requirements imposed on you as far as sending/posting notices, filings, etc. before you can get the property 3 years later. One missed step and you could lose your entire investment.

Basically, if you are willing to put up a considerable amount of cash (because you need a lot of certificates to generate any 2nd year income or get one property), if you are willing to accept no return for the first full year, if you are willing to accept that less than 0.05% of the certificates will convert into property, and you are willing to do the ongoing work and pay attorney’s fees and court costs to evict the people defaulting in the first place, it is possible.

The systems sell it as an easy way to get a $100,000 home for the cost of a $500 tax certificate. The truth is, you have to buy hundreds of certificates before one turns into a property. It seems like an awful lot of work, money and headaches to acquire a sub-par property in a bad neighborhood.

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