Yavapai County delinquent tax lien sale set for Feb. 8

Every February on the second Tuesday, thousands of tax liens resulting from unpaid property taxes go up for sale by the Yavapai County treasurer.

This year, 2,236 liens are listed for a Feb. 8 online auction. (The list is published Friday, Jan. 21, in The Daily Courier’s legal notices.)

The 2022 total is down from last year’s total of 2,786; the 2020 total of 2,987; and 2019’s 3,064. The number of lien properties has generally been trending downward since the end of the Great Recession that started in 2008 and lasted through the early 2010s. Also the county has been removing from the auction properties that historically have not been selling.

Yavapai County Treasurer Chip Davis said 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 Office’s auction, they are getting the lien, not the property.

Davis said interest rates are a big factor on both sides: “Banks are paying next to zero on interest rates so purchasing tax liens should pay far better than most investments in the market. It should be better for property owners that couldn’t make their payments because interest rates to buy back and get current should be lower than past years.”

In this year’s Feb. 8 auction, liens resulting from delinquent taxes from 2020 and prior will be up for sale. Before properties are listed in the lien sale, Davis said, owners receive a number of notices to alert them to the unpaid taxes.

“We also let people know when a lien is due to expire,” he said. “If you hold one for 10 years it expires; if someone holds one that long, then it is no longer a good investment.”

The Feb. 8 tax sale is an online auction at yavapai.arizonataxsale.com. General information is available on the county treasurer’s website at https://yavapaiaz.gov/treasurer/Treasurers-Back-Tax-Sale.

After purchasing a lien, the successful bidder must hold onto it for at least three years. In 2025, if the property owner has not paid off the lien, the lien holder would then be able to file a lawsuit to foreclose on the property and get ownership.

Typically, about 100 of the tax liens ultimately result in the foreclosure procedure. Davis said there were 54 foreclosure actions last year.

The auction involves proxy bids, in which auction participants enter their lowest acceptable bid for a certificate, with auction participants placing a proxy bid for an interest rate. A deposit is required in the amount of $25 or 10% of the certificate face, whichever is greater.

“I still think it’s a great investment for folks not wanting the zero-percent (interest) coming out of the banks,” Davis added.

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