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How to research tax liens

Public Records, Tax Deeds

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В В В Locate and Use County Public Records to Research Tax Deeds

The backbone of all due diligence research relies on the title research. Every Clerk of Circuit Courts Office in every Florida County, maintains and records vital documents into the County Official Records. While commonly referred to as public records, the official records comprises but one part.

The other records which you will need are maintained by the County Tax Collector and the County Property Appraiser. Together, the data collected from the these three offices can paint a clear image of the possibilities a property may hold for you. Regardless of the sale type, there are great advantages to understanding and collecting the data.

TaxDeed Paid $4,500 Sold $14,800

Public Records, County Clerk of Courts

What is commonly found in the Clerk's Homepage?

  • Link to Tax Deed Sale Lists and Bidding Procedure
  • Link to Tax Deed Files
  • Link to Foreclosure Sales and Bidding Procedure
  • Link to List of Lands Available for Taxes
  • Link to Escheated Property Listing
  • Link to Official Records

    Within the Official Records you can locate:

  • mortgages,
  • liens,
  • encumbrances,
  • owners of record,
  • property conveyances,
  • special assessments levied upon a property,
  • judgments.

In many instances a mortgage or conveyance is not found online while online official records are available for viewing in the county. This happens most frequently when an official document was recorded prior to online availability. If I am researching a title and can't locate a deed or conveying document, I refer to the last book/page number attached to the legal description. The book and page number attached to the legal description will be that certain deed or conveyance of record transferring ownership or impeding the property. This work will have to be done in the Clerks Office and many times will require assistance from them.

I have had the unfortunate opportunity to research a deed back to 1883. The process was complex, but it led me back in time from online records, through microfilm, through plat books, back to the beginning. I was being led by the book and page numbers attached to the legal descriptions. A single mets and bounds was posted on a piece of paper which was transcribed into a ledger book. While I could have a title researcher conduct this work, it was educational. Upon locating the document, a title researcher informed me that to search back to that extent would have cost thousands of dollars.

While not all of these above links will found in every county, if not available online a trip to the County Clerk of Circuit Courts will be necessary.

Public Records, Property Appraiser

What is commonly found in the Property Appraisers Homepage?

  • Link to Property Data
    Within a Properties Specific Data Card you will likely find:
  • Property Assessment
  • Owner Address
  • Assessed Value
  • Zoning
  • Current and Best Use
  • Parcel dimensions
  • Property Features
  • Interactive Maps
  • Sales History for the specific property
  • Sales Data for the surrounding area
  • Again, not all of these above links will be available in every county.

    Having access to such information is vital and can be found easily in most counties. I find that having access to interactive mapping to be a big plus. In most counties you can transfer the plat map to an aerial and overlay: streets, parcels, boundaries, sales data. Then its just a matter of printing out your target map with the features you desire.

    Public Records, Tax Collector

    What is commonly found there?

    Website in Most Counties Link to Property Tax History

    Lets Get Moving

    Brevard County allows online viewing of tax deed files.

    Public Records Research for Tax Deed Auctions/Properties on the List of Lands

    Clerk of Courts, Brevard County:

    Brevard County is currently using tribute web to host the tax deed files and auction lists.Look under Public Records see

    Tax Deed Auctions There you will also find Lands Available for Taxes and FAQ's Search by date, locate the Title Search pages (normally available 30-40 days prior to auction).

    Note the names of owners of record, parties of interest, book and page number of liens/mortgages/probate records, which can be found in the tax deed file.

    Property Appraiser Link in Tax Deed File Check to be sure the legal description in both the tax deed file and Property Appraisers record are the same. Locate the aerial map. While you can't currently overlay sales data on the interactive map, the sales search can be done from the Appraiser's homepage. Get the information you need and move to the Tax Collector's Office. There you will be able to search by owner name, legal, etc. to access the records.

    If your property has passed the test so far it's back to the Clerk's Office to conduct a search of the official records. Look under Public Records see Official Records. Search 1981-current.

    Search on those names located in the tax deed file. As you work through the returned list, view as many documents as possible. This is invaluable information, for a new investor, to understanding the parties, designations and document types.

    The A1 reason for conducting the official records search on a tax deed property is that the information in the tax deed file can be up to 6 months old. The information contained in the tax deed file for a property listed on the List of Lands Available could be as much as 3 years old. Outdated research equals disaster, maybe new liens have levied against the owners or property or the property has been sold. Move backwards in time with your official records search until you are satisfied that all liens are identified and all owners are accounted for.

    Tax Collector Link in Tax Deed File You will need to copy/paste the Tax Account Number into the search query field to extract the record. The current year taxes owed will not be included into the opening bid of the tax deed auction so, this will become your liability and should be taken into consideration.

    If you intend to contact the owner to buy direct, knowing the information found from these sources is a true advantage. If you know the property owner is 3 years behind on property taxes and has a mortgage for 50% of the value, you will have a great estimate of the amount the owner can except for the property. Once an estimate of the owner's equity is established, you can make a clear decision as to whether the property is worth perusing.

    If you need step-by-step help in conducting your title research, see my previous pages in the page progression.

    While there is still much to discover and learn, this will be my final research page specifically for tax deed property auctions.

    Tax Deed 1.2Acres commercial Paid $67,000 Retail $220,000, currently holding

    Coming of a New Age

    In 2008, Florida law change allows the counties to conduct tax deed and foreclosure sales online. The first county held online foreclosure sale is scheduled in Charlotte County. The site looks great and the county is offering a training class held at the Clerk's Office. I believe this will forever change the dynamics of the auction. Investors were frequently unable to attend numerous auctions on a single day due to physically being required to attend. Online tax deed/foreclosure auctions will open new opportunities for some while ending the old boys network, where a few frequent bidders netted most profitable properties. The days of person to person bidding on the court house steps will be replaced with proxibids and online instruction. A new dynamic for a new age, no more mystery and free information for all. Here is a link to the Clerk's Office

    The information found here is my opinion and should not be interpreted or construed as legal or professional advice. No legal or professional advice is being given and the use of this information is at the readers own risk and peril. It is advised that those considering this investment should seek qualified legal and professional services.

    Category: Taxes

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