Buying a condo in Miami: Should you purchase a tax deed?

Buying a condo in Miami: Should you purchase a tax deed?

Buying a condo in Miami and purchasing tax deeds are topics that we would like to shed light on in today’s blog post. Tax deed sales occur when a property owner becomes delinquent on their tax payments, and the property is placed up for auction to settle the lien. The sale is generally conducted by the Clerk’s Office in accordance with Florida Laws. The goal, naturally, is to acquire a property worth far more than the tax liability. However, this process does involve some risk and there are important things to keep in mind when purchasing a tax deed. Read on to learn why this is something to consider when buying a condo in Miami.

Notice of Sale

When a property is eligible for tax deed sale, which is when ad valorem property taxes are over two years delinquent, Florida real estate law requires that the tax collector must identify the legal lien holders and any parties of interest in the property, and the courts must then notify these parties that the property is up for sale. In addition, the sale is required to be advertised in the newspaper once per week for a month prior to the opening of the auction.

If the notice does not reach the owner(s), a case can be built to overturn the sale. This presents a sizable risk and can be a harsh surprise to the purchaser of the deed. Precedent was set for this in 2006, in the Jones v. Flowers 547 U.S. 220 decision.

Property Redemption

Up until the day when the property changes hands, the property owner may pay all delinquent and currently-owed taxes and any other court costs associated with the process of the sale. This payment must be in cash or through certified funds. If the property owner does so before the bidder pays for the deed, the property is redeemed and returns back to the original owner.

Other Liens and Encumbrances

Not all liens or judgments are forgiven with the purchase of a property. While private judgments and liens do not continue following the sale and state liens may be removed, government liens and judgments do survive the deed sale and must still be paid.

Taking Possession

Under Florida Statute 197.562, as soon as you are granted the tax deed you can take immediate possession of the property in question. If you are refused possession, you can apply to the circuit courts to have a writ of assistant issued. To do so, you must first give the person refusing you five days’ notice.

Marketable Titles

Not every property up for tax deed sale provides a marketable title. In order to ensure that you are receiving the kind of title you want, you should carefully research the property you are considering.

Obtaining a marketable title from an auction that does not guarantee such may require a quiet title civil law suit in order to clear the property’s title. Civil law attorneys can be of great assistance in this process.

If You Win the Auction

If you win the auction, there are several steps you will need to take, in order to take possession of the property these are as follows:

  • Report to the Clerk’s office Recording department immediately upon closing the sale.
  • The deputy clerk will give you the total due, including your bid, documentary stamps and recording fees.
  • You pay the clerk $200 in cash or 5% of the bidding price, whichever is higher.
  • You will need to provide the name in which you wish the deed to be issued.
  • Total payment must be tendered within 24 hours via cash, cashier’s check or money order made payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
  • The sooner you make payment the better — remember, the former property owner can redeem the property up until the moment you tender payment.
  • If you fail to make payment within 24 hours, the Clerk may refuse your bid and place it up for re-auction, as well as invalidating you for any future auctions under Florida Statutes 197.542(1).

Additional Information

If you need any additional information regarding the property, such as structural improvements that have been made or have to be made, the Property Appraiser’s office is your best resource. In addition, the tax deed file, located in the Clerk of Circuit Court Recording department, can be very useful. Florida Statutes Chapter 197 provide all of the laws governing tax deed sales.

These are just the basics covering tax deed sales. The process can be quite complex and does involve a degree of risk management. But if you are considering buying a condo in Miami, buying a tax deed can be a great investment — and can save you a whole bundle of cash. For further assistance in this sticky matter, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 305-725-4971