How to Buy Delinquent Tax Property in Ohio

by Kim Dieter ; Updated July 27, 2017
Vacant land is one type of delinquent tax property in Ohio.

Each of the 88 counties in Ohio determines its process for selling delinquent tax properties. If the real estate owner does not pay the property taxes, the smaller counties initiate a judicial foreclosure procedure and sell the property at tax deed auctions. Larger counties may sell tax lien certificates. The county bundles all tax liens and sells the bundle at an auction. The purchaser offering the bid with the lowest interest rate buys the tax lien certificates for the amount of the delinquent taxes plus fees. The purchaser is entitled to full payment plus interest from the property owners. If the purchaser is not paid after a stated time period, the purchaser starts the foreclosure process and eventually receives the property titles.

Step 1

Contact the Ohio county of interest and determine the delinquent tax property disposal process. Tax deed or tax lien certificate auctions are held weekly or on an as-needed basis. Auctions are advertised in local newspapers three times prior to the auction. Contact the treasurer’s office for lists of available property. Some counties list the properties online or post information at the courthouse.

Step 2

Go to the county recorder’s office and conduct a title search on the property. Search for liens, delinquent water bills and other encumbrances attached to the property. Visit the assessor’s office to obtain parcel maps and the assessed value. Inspect the parcel map. Locate the legal description, any easements, the legal access and size of the property. Determine if there are any structures or other improvements.

Step 3

Visit the property in person and inspect it if possible. Many Ohio counties do not allow property inspections prior to the auction. However, a potential investor may drive by the property and inspect it from the closest road. Online maps and aerial views may be available. Look for any buildings, possible environmental hazards that require cleanup, and challenges to development. Counties sell the property “as is” and do not offer guarantees or warranties.

Step 4

Formulate a competitive bid using information from similar properties. Search lists of recent real estate sales in the chosen county. Find properties of similar size and development. Recent sales information is often available on real estate websites. Secure financing prior to the auction, if necessary.

Step 5

Research the auction requirements. Potential bidders are often required to register, provide identification and pay a registration fee. Some counties require the successful bidder to pay a percentage of the total price at the conclusion of the auction. The remaining sum is due when the sale is confirmed by the court. Ohio counties stipulate the type of payment -- usually cash, a cashier’s check or money order. The minimum bid is often the sum of the delinquent taxes, fees, court costs and assessments. The owner of tax delinquent property may stop the auction by paying the total bill prior to the auction.

Step 6

Bid at the Ohio delinquent property tax auction. After payment, obtain the deed to the property at tax deed auctions. Obtain the tax lien certificates at tax lien auctions. The successful bidder at a tax lien certificate auction does not take possession of the property. The bidder has a lien on the property and must complete the foreclosure process to obtain the title.

About the Author

Kim Dieter has taught agriscience classes, developed curriculum and participated in the school accreditation process at the secondary and community college levels since 1980. She holds a Master of Science degree from the University of California, Davis, in animal science.

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