Every second Tuesday of February, thousands of tax liens resulting from unpaid property taxes go up for sale by the Yavapai County treasurer.
This year, 2,994 liens are listed for a Feb. 11 online auction. The 2020 total is down slightly from last year’s total of 3,064. (The list is published today, Jan. 21, in the Daily Courier’s legal notices.)
Yavapai County Treasurer Ross Jacobs explained that his department annually lists for-sale-by-auction the liens that have been placed on properties with delinquent taxes.
A lien is a legal claim on property to satisfy a debt or obligation. When people bid on and buy the liens through the Yavapai County Treasurer’s auction, they are getting the lien, not the property.
In this year’s Feb. 11 auction, liens resulting from delinquent taxes from 2018 will be up for sale.
Prior to having their properties listed in the lien sale, owners receive a number of notices to alert them to the unpaid taxes, Jacobs said.
“They received a delinquent notice in May 2019 and another in the first part of December,” he said, adding that the owners have about 18 months to pay the delinquent amount before the lien sale.
Most of the liens are on fairly small parcels that are vacant, Jacobs said, although properties with houses and other buildings sometimes get on the list as well.
The Feb. 11 tax sale is an online auction at: yavapai.arizonataxsale.com. General information about the sale is available on the County Treasurer’s website at: www.yavapai.us/treasurer/Treasurers-Back-Tax-Sale. The 2020 advertising list is available at: www.yavapai.us/Portals/17/AdvertisingList20200108.Courier.pdf.
After purchasing a lien, the successful bidder must hold onto it for three years, Jacob said. In 2023, if the property owner has not paid off the lien, the lien holder would be able to file a lawsuit to foreclose on the property and get ownership.
Typically, about 100 to 150 of the tax liens ultimately result in the foreclosure procedure, Jacobs said.
He suggests that people who are interested in bidding on the liens should do their homework before proceeding.
“They should make sure they’re bidding on a viable piece,” Jacobs said, pointing out that some of the liens could be on properties that are located on steep hillsides or other difficult-to-build-on places.
The auction involves proxy bids, in which auction participants enter their lowest acceptable bid for a certificate.
Jacobs explained that auction participants place a proxy bid for an interest rate. “Interest rates start at 16% and are bid down in 1% increments,” states a frequently-asked-questions section on the County Treasurer’s website.
A deposit is required in the amount of $25 or 10% of the certificate face, whichever is greater.
The number of lien properties has generally been trending downward since the end of the recession that started in 2008 and lasted through the early 2010s, Jacobs said.
That is likely a reflection on a state of the real estate market. When real estate is selling, people tend to pay their taxes, he said, while more delinquencies occur during times of recession.
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