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Tax Sale Property Research

I’ve been asked for my personal checklist of property research items. This is separate from things disclosed by a property inspection, such as condition of roof, flooring, etc. Here is my list. Sometimes I run across things that cause me to investigate other matters, but this is a good start. Answers to the following questions help me evaluate risk and value.

  1. Was the assessed owner the owner on the date of the auction with no transfers or foreclosures?
  2. How did the owner acquire the property?
  3. What type of ownership did they acquire (life estate, joint tenancy, etc.)?
  4. Are there any liens?
  5. Has the property been through a prior auction? Who bought it? Why did they discontinue paying the taxes (educated guess)?
  6. What is the assessment history regarding improvements, values, homestead and over-65 exemptions?
  7. Did the tax bill go to an address different from the property?
  8. What other properties are/were owned by the same owner? Have any of them gone delinquent? Can I make an educated guess about why this property, among all that person’s properties, was neglected as far as paying the taxes?
  9. How can I be SURE as to the property address?
  10. What is nearby that might depress the value, such as gravel pit, game cock farm, junk yard, etc.?
  11. What is the neighborhood profile re: owner occupied or rental properties?
  12. Are there decent roads to the property?
  13. Is it landlocked?
  14. Is someone currently using it? Who? What is their relationship to the owner (tenant, relative, squatter)?
  15. Is the property inside an official urban renewal or urban redevelopment district?
  16. Is the property inside an Opportunity Zone?
  17. Is the property the subject of any eminent domain proceedings?
  18. Is it the subject of any unsafe structure condemnation proceedings?
  19. Are there orders in process to clean garbage, cut dead trees, etc.?
  20. Is there a stigma to the property, such as murder, suicide, sink holes, etc.?
  21. Is the property listed for sale with a real estate agent or on one of the FSBO sites?
  22. Is the taxpayer still alive? If deceased, who are the heirs? Where are they?
  23. Where does the taxpayer live? What does that information tell me?
  24. What other properties does the taxpayer own?
  25. Has the taxpayer filed for bankruptcy?
  26. Is the taxpayer in prison?
  27. Where are nearby sex offenders, if any?
  28. What does a Google search reveal about the owner and how does that affect my educated guess about likelihood of redemption and/or buying out rights via quitclaim?

I hope this helps. If you need guidance on doing the research that will answer the questions above, I have one-on-one personal training sessions (over the Internet, but no computer skills required on your end) to teach you my tricks and how to interpret what you find. Click HERE for details.

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Online Deed Research

The following counties have deed research capabilities on the county websites. Click on the county name to link to each one’s portal. Baldwin, Houston, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Shelby and Tuscaloosa Counties.  They are slightly different from each other, because they use different services to host their deed records. Check your county’s website to see if they have dedicated links on their site.

I’ve encountered some browser issues with the county websites. Sometimes the search feature works in Chrome, but not Microsoft Explorer. Sometimes the reverse. Please try a different browser if yours does not work for the search function.

Other counties use a service by a company named Syscon, and you have to go to THAT website for your research. Currently, you use Syscon for the following counties: Bibb, Calhoun, Clarke, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Franklin, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lauderdale, Limestone, Monroe, Talladega, Walker, Wilcox, Winston. Click HERE to get started.