How to Buy Property for Back Taxes in Missouri

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Purchasing a Missouri property through back taxes is an affordable way to buy land. A Missouri property that is delinquent on taxes for two or more years may be sold at public auction. If the property is bought, the buyer is issued a Tax Sale Certificate of Purchase. Following the sale, the original owner has a specified amount of time to redeem his property by paying all of the back taxes, interest and other associated costs. If the property is redeemed, it transfers back to the original owner. If it's not, the property belongs to the new owner.

Decide which county in Missouri you would like to own property in. To buy a property through back taxes in Missouri, you must be a resident of the county you wish to buy property in or be authorized to buy property in that county by a resident of the county.

Pull a list of properties that will be sold in your county of choice. Some counties publish the list online at the county collector's website, while others publish them in the county newspapers at least 15 days prior to the sale. Decide what property you would be interested in bidding on and prepare yourself for the auction by knowing how much is owed in back taxes.

Attend the county back tax sale. State law requires that the sale be held every year on the fourth Monday of August, in or near the county courthouse at 10 a.m. Bid on the property you would like to purchase. If you are the highest bidder, you will need to pay the amount of your bid immediately after the completion of the sale. Then you will be issued a Tax Sale Certificate of Purchase.

Wait for the specified "Right to Redeem" period to expire. This period varies in length depending on the county. Some counties require a one-year period, while others gauge the length on how many years the taxes have been delinquent. You are responsible for paying the property taxes on the property during the "Right to Redeem" period. If, at any time during that period, the original owner pays the county collector the total of the back taxes, interest and other associated costs, the property will be deeded back to him.

Conduct a title search of the public record for the property at least 90 days prior to the conclusion of the "Right to Redeem" period. If there are any liens on the property, you must alert the lean holder and the previous owner, in writing, by certified mail, of your intent to apply for a Collector's Deed. If you do not hear back in 90 days, they forfeit their right to hold the lean against the property.

Apply for and record a Collector's Deed once the "Right to Redeem" period concludes. The property then belongs to you.


  • You will not receive any compensation for any improvements you make to the property should the original owner redeem his property during the specified time. To avoid risk of losing your investment, you should refrain from making any improvements until you have a Collector's Deed in hand.