Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds – How to Buy Tax Deeds Over the Counter

Profit From Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds

I’m Ted Thomas, and today I’m going to answer your question about how to buy tax deeds over the counter.

You can also buy tax lien certificates over the counter, but we’ll cover over-the-counter tax deeds in this particular article.

I’ll also talk to you about making money with tax liens and a little bit about the auctions.

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Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Tax Liens and Tax Deeds

Let’s start with some foundational material to give you a basis of this business. It’s been around for over 200 years, and anybody can do it. It’s available in over 3,000 counties and 1,400 municipalities.

The states are pretty much divided.

About half of the states will sell tax lien certificates on tax lien properties, and the other half will sell tax defaulted property. Either of these could end up not being sold at the auction, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Property Tax

All properties in the county must pay property tax. Generally, the taxes are about 1% or 2%.

What is a tax deed state, and how does the process work there?

If property owners don’t pay property tax, the treasurer will seize the property, move whoever is in it out of the property, and then sell the property at a tax defaulted auction.

If 2 or 3 years go by, and the property goes to auction, you’re going to be stealing a property for 2%, 3% or 5% of what the real value is.

All properties are sold at auction after the county has gone through the foreclosure process. The money that’s collected goes to the local government to pay local government bills.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Tax Defaulted Auction

property tax auctionsA tax defaulted auction can take place in any county at any time, but they announce them online and in the local newspaper. Most people don’t know what they’re reading, but the information is there.

Tax deed properties are always sold to the highest bidder. What is a OTC property? If there’s no bidder, it ends up on a list you can get over the counter, which I’ll explain soon.

Tax defaulted auctions sometimes will have 10 or 20 properties if they’re doing it every 2 weeks, or they could have as many as 200 or 400 properties at the auction.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:
Rural vs City Auctions

I’ve been to a Los Angeles County auction, and there were a good 2,000 properties every time I went. It’s kind of a zoo when they’re trying to get rid of 2,000 properties, so that’s a whole challenge.

Rural counties don’t have as many people showing up for their auctions. Everybody goes to the big city because those auctions could have a lot of properties, a lot of choices.

If you go to rural county auctions, you’ll be doing business with the county. You probably won’t have a professional auctioneer.

Your chances of getting a low-priced property are better in a rural county than they are in a big city. That’s because the commercial auctioneers run the price up. They want to get as high as possible because they’re paid a commission.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

At the auction, they’re trying to sell the properties for as much money as they can get. However, the bidding will start at the back taxes.

Don’t bid 95%. Try to bid as low as possible to get the property.

If the auction takes place, and there’s no bidding at all or no bidding on a certain property, the county will try again at the next auction to sell it.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:


Some treasures will say, “When this auction is over, we’ll have another auction tomorrow or several days from now and change the price to $100.” The treasurer has power to do all that.

I was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the treasurer said, “Come back in 42 days. Everything will be $100.”

I’ve been in Los Angeles and San Bernardino county where they said, “Come back in 30 days. We’ll sell them for $100.” It’s up to the treasurer. You just have to go to the auction to find out.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds List

Now what I’m going to cover is how to buy tax deeds over-the-counter.

If they don’t sell the property, now they have to do something with it. Rather than leave it on that same auction list, they’ll move it over to another list.

I can’t tell you the name of the other list until I know what state you’re in. The over-the-counter tax deed states use different terminologies.

The list could be called a “Surplus Lands List,” or it could be called a “Leftover Lands List,” a “Strike-off List,” or a “Scavenger List.”

The local county is going to name it whatever they want. For example in South Carolina, they call it the “Forfeited Lands Commission List.”

how to find hidden real estate bargains

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Buying Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds

These properties on the list did not sell at the auction. Some leftover lands lists will have thousands of tax defaulted properties and thousands of tax liens all for sale.

Why do you want to know about it? Because perfectly good properties sometimes end up on the leftover list.

Additionally, the properties on this list are priced at very close to the back taxes.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:
Where to Buy Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds

To buy over-the-counter, you show up at the county office, and you just stand there at the desk and say, “I want to see the properties on the scavenger list.”

They’ll give you the list, and you can look at every one of the properties. You can check them out on the computer to see what you want, and there’s nobody else bidding.

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Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:
Profiting from Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds

You’re the only buyer. If you want it, you can buy it right there, and you’ll own the property. The county doesn’t want that property. The county wants to sell it.

Some people are going to make $25,000 or $50,000 in profit. I have examples of people who have bought for $2,000 and sold years later for $100,000. So there are valuable deals on the over-the-counter list.

Key point, before you buy, go out and take a look at the property. Make sure it’s there and in acceptable condition.

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:

Getting Mortgage-Free Property

Keep in mind, the mortgage has already been wiped off the property. When I say it’s wiped off the property, I mean it’s removed.

The person who signed that mortgage, the signatory, still owes that mortgage. However, it’s not owed by the property.

The property was just the collateral, so you purchase that property mortgage-free.

no mortgage

Over-the-Counter Tax Deeds:


What took place here? The taxpayer didn’t pay property tax, and the treasurer attempted to collect the tax but could not. So what happened? The treasurer seized the property, tried to sell it at auction, but it didn’t sell.

After the property didn’t sell, they attempted a re-auction. It still did not sell, so it went on a list of tax defaulted properties that could be purchased over the counter at the county office.

With no one else bidding the price up and no competition, you can just buy the property outright by paying the delinquent taxes which amount to pennies on the dollar of the property’s assessed value.

On top of that, you get the property without a mortgage.

If you’d like to learn more, there’s no one more qualified to teach you than Ted Thomas, America’s leading authority on tax lien certificates and tax defaulted property investing.

Ted Thomas is the only one who provides full support and complete training with home study courses, Q&A webinars, live tutorials, workshops & web classes, and personal one-on-one coaching.

Ted Thomas classGet started today at no cost with Ted’s FREE Master Class, that reveals the incredible opportunities available in tax lien certificates and tax defaulted property. The class is only about 1 hour of streaming video and contains life-changing information! You can’t afford to miss it!

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Ted Thomas

Ted Thomas is America’s Leading Authority on Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Deed Auctions, as well as a publisher and author of more than 30 books. His guidebooks on Real Estate have sold in four corners of the world. He has been teaching people just like you for over 30 years how to buy houses in good neighborhoods for pennies on the dollar. He teaches how to create wealth with minimum risk and easy-to-learn methods.

The Ted Thomas Difference:

  • Ted is recognized as America’s Tax Lien Certificate & Tax Deed Authority and has been helping people with investing in tax defaulted properties for over 30 years.
  • Ted has built a team of certified coaches that have 70 combined years of auction experience and are available to his students by phone to guide and mentor you to avoid getting overwhelmed or worse, losing money
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