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Treasurer: Katie Jungquist

GUIDE TO PURCHASING PROPERTY
THROUGH THE SKAGIT COUNTY TREASURER'S OFFICE

Application for Tax Title Property

What You Should Know…

The County Treasurer conducts three separate types of auctions on real property. They are Tax Foreclosures, Surplus Title and Tax Title Sales

Disclosure Statement:

Anyone considering the purchase of property at a Treasurer's sale should be aware that there are risks. When selling parcels, the county conveys the entirety of the interest, which it is legally capable of transferring, unless otherwise noted. However, the county does not guarantee or provide warranty as to the extent of that interest. The county makes NO guarantees whatsoever on parcels sold at Treasurer's sales.

The following statement applies to all Treasurer real property sales: "This is a BUYER BEWARE sale." The parcels are offered on a "where is" and "as is" basis. The County makes no representation of warranty, nor any guarantee of warranty, expressed or implied as to the condition of title to any property, nor the physical condition of any property or its fitness for any use or purpose. Treasurer's Deeds issued on parcels acquired in foreclosure sale DO NOT warrant clear title." It is important that you view the property and make additional inquiries about questions you might have. Private property should NOT be entered without permission of the property owner.

TAX FORECLOSURE:

What is Tax Foreclosure? When real property taxes become three years delinquent, the County Treasurer begins foreclosure action. A Certificate of Delinquency is filed with the Superior Court listing the accounts to be in the foreclosure action. Once the Certificate is filed, foreclosure costs are added to each parcel. These costs are accruable and can exceed $500.00 per parcel.

As required by law, all parties with a recorded legal interest (revealed by title searches conducted on each parcel) are notified and served by certified or registered mail. A Notice of Summons is also published in a local newspaper.

What is the redemption period on parcels in foreclosure? All parcels being foreclosed on can be redeemed by the owner or other parties with a recorded legal interest, up until the close of business on the day before the sale. There is no right of redemption by owners or lien-holders the day of the sale.

County tax foreclosures fall under different laws than other types of foreclosure sales. Once the property has gone through foreclosure, the prior owners have no rights to the property, unless they were a minor or legally incompetent. Minors and legal incompetents have the right to redeem anything within three years from the date of the foreclosure sale. If they do so, they must pay the amount for which the property sold, plus interest on the tax amount, plus any improvements made by the new owner.

What happens to all the property liens? Most liens are extinguished (disappear) as of the date of the foreclosure sale. However, some government liens, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have a redemption period of six months in which they can decide to take action; after that time, the lien is extinguished on that parcel. Parcels are sold subject to special assessment liens, if any. Also, easements recorded prior to tax delinquency, as well as public utility easements may still apply. The County can make no guarantees, however, that the prior lien-holders will honor this extinguishment. If prior lien-holders attempt to collect on their liens after the property has been foreclosed on, it is entirely up to the new owner to defend against these claims. EXCEPTION: When the Record Owner purchases property at sale - All Liens Remain.

What are Excess Proceeds? If a parcel is sold at a foreclosure sale for more than the minimum bid, the surplus monies (excess proceeds) can be claimed by the previous record title owner, who held title on the day the Certificate of Delinquency was filed. Application can be made for up to three years from the date of the foreclosure sale.

TAX TITLE & SURPLUS SALES

What is Tax Title Property? Property that is foreclosed on but receives no acceptable bid is deeded to the County. These parcels are "tax title", or tax foreclosed properties and are held in trust by the County. These parcels may be purchased from the county upon application and approval by the County Commissioners.

What is Surplus Property? Parcels that have been deeded to the County, not through a foreclosure sale, are considered "fee title." They may also be purchased from the County upon application. Once it is approved by the County Commissioners, the property is then declared "surplus" through a public hearing process.

How are Tax Title or County Owned Surplus Properties Purchased? When an application is made and approved, tax title and County owned surplus properties are sold at public auction. It can take as long as 8 months to bring a parcel to sale.

When someone is interested in buying a particular parcel, they can begin by filling out an "Application to Purchase County Property" which is available at the Treasurer's office or can be downloaded from our web site (See Forms Page). At the time of filing with the Treasurer, a $50.00 deposit will be required.

The application will be reviewed by the Treasurer's office and submitted to the County Commissioners. They, in turn, will submit the application to other County Departments to determine that there are no objections to the request for sale. Once the Commissioners receive responses from the various departments, they will decide whether or not it is in the best interest of the County to sell the parcel. At a public hearing, the decision is made to either approve or reject the sale request.

If the request is denied, the applicant's $50.00 deposit is refunded. If approved, the Treasurer will schedule a date for the public auction. If the applicant is the successful bidder at the sale, the $50.00 deposit is applied to the costs of the sale. The deposit is refunded if someone else purchases the parcel.

A deed will be issued within thirty days of the date of sale. Deeds are forwarded to the County Auditor's office for recording and then mailed to the purchaser.

RESEARCH

Thorough research on all potential purchases is essential. There are definite risks when buying tax foreclosure, tax title and county owned surplus sales. Buying property without doing complete research can result in unwanted and costly surprises.

Check it out! The following are resources, which you might find helpful.

Questions about buildability, zoning, use restrictions are just a few things that should be looked at prior to any purchase. City and county departments of engineering, building and codes and planning are good places for that information as well as whether there are any specific city or county ordinances of concern.

Title Companies can provide you with information about whether or not the property is insurable.

A parcel may have local improvements or special assessments for which payment is due. Some assessments are collected by the County Treasurer; if the property is within a city, there may also be city assessments such as garbage, water etc.

Other things to consider: Community association dues, easements (all utility easements and other easements that are three years or older are unaffected by tax foreclosure).

Physical Inspection of the Property: It is strongly recommended that you visit all property sites. Is there any access to the parcel? Can you accurately identify property boundaries? Is the parcel being used in some way by adjoining property owners? Is the parcel affected by water in some way?

PUBLIC AUCTION

Minimum bid sheets for the foreclosure sales are usually available the first of November. They are free of charge if picked up at the Treasurer's office, $3.00 if requested through the mail or can be found on our web site under Foreclosure Sale after November.1st. Information about the specific location of the sale will be provided at that time.

Bidders or a representative must be present and register the morning of the auction. Written information will be provided when you register as well as instructions. If you expect to bid, you must be prepared to pay by cash, cashier's check or postal money order. Absolutely no personal or business checks will be accepted. You will have up to two hours to pay after the close of the sale. If someone fails to return with payment, the sale will be reconvened and the parcel will be rebid, with the original bidder excluded from participating. Payment will be made at the office of the County Treasurer.

This information is designed to assist you and in no way encompasses the entirely of information regarding these sales. Some of this information may change. Also, please be aware that circumstances may differ from sale to sale and/or require special exceptions. This site is not intended to provide legal advice. We advise anyone with questions to seek the advice of their attorney.