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Michigan Public Land Auction

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do land auctions work?

    At registration, each bidder is given a bidder card and salebook. The lots are auctioned off in the order in which they appear in the salebook. Once the auction is over, each winning bidder must pay the full amount owed within 30 minutes of the auction's completion.

  • How do I bid?

    For onsite bidding, you will be required to present a driver's license and a provide a phone number. You will be given a bidder card and a sale book for that day's sale. After you're done bidding, there is no need to wait until the end of the auction; you may pay and leave as soon as you're ready.

  • What is an SEV?

    The SEV is the "State Equalized Value", which is the local assessors estimate of 50% of the actual value of the property at the time it was last assessed.

    We do not suggest using this figure as anything other than a rough guess of current value. Buying parcels without seeing them in person is very risky.

    Example : A house that burned down or has collapsed may have had a high SEV at one time ... and could now be a vacant lot ..... or a structure that needs to be demolished (at YOUR cost).

    The SEV of parcels listed may NOT be a fair reflection of their current value.

  • Do I still get a tax lien when I buy property from Michigan tax sales?

    No, under the new system all buyers receive a quit claim deed. All previous title rights have been extinguished, and you own the property free and clear. Prior owners have no right to redeem the parcel from the deed sale.

    The only liens that survive foreclosures are those filed by governmental agencies in relation to the environmental protection act. Individuals interested in parcels associated to Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) liens should contact the DEQ to discuss lien amounts that may become the responsibility of purchasers.Recorded or visible easements, right of ways and deeds, and environmental restrictions also survive the foreclosure.

    In the rare event that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not been properly noticed regarding property on which the IRS has placed a lien, such IRS liens would survive the foreclosure process.

    CAVEAT: The Treasurer has the right to cancel sales up to the time of the delivery of the deed at its sole discretion. In these instances, you would receive a refund of your purchase price and other auction charges. This is rare, but a measure Treasurers have had to utilize a handful of times when property was sold by mistake.

  • How long will it take to get my deed?

    Deeds are executed by the Treasurer within 30 days of the sale, then recorded with the Register of Deeds and mailed to you. The time required for recording and mailing varies from county-to-county.

  • Do I assume any back taxes or other costs?

    Individuals who purchase parcels at our auctions are responsible for the taxes that are due and payable in the year of purchase, as well as any subsequent years. taxes. In addition, buyers assume responsibility for remaining years of special assessments, beginning in the year of purchase. Buyers are not responsible for costs incurred by the local municipality during the year of the auction. All liens for costs of demolition, safety repairs, debris removal, or sewer or water charges are cancelled effective December 31. Special assessments levied through the year of the auction are included in the minimum bids. All bidders should contact city or township offices to determine if there are any outstanding bonded assessments for future tax years on the properties being offered.

  • When do I get to take possession?

    Buyers are encouraged to secure properties from the elements and trespassers immediately. We strongly discourage buyers from investing any significant monies in improvements until the delivery of the deed. Insuring the property would be encouraged.

  • Do you guarantee the address listed on the website or the property in the photo is the parcel being sold?

    The parcels are sold by their LEGAL DESCRIPTION ONLY. (Subdivision name and Lot number, or Metes and Bounds measured description). While every measure is taken to assure the addresses and/or photos on the website are accurate, our inspectors are not trained as surveyors! You are relying on your own investigation and information when purchasing this property. PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH THOROUGHLY AND CAREFULLY. All parcels are sold "as is where is" and there are NO REFUNDS.

  • How can I find these properties? Are plat maps available?

    Plat maps can be found here:
    Search by subdivision name and county. Be sure that you find the correct block (blk) number.

  • This property has people living in it. Can I just kick them out?

    No. Any occupants of the property at the time of sale must be treated as "tenants-holding-over" (like a tenant whose lease has expired) and must be evicted by court order. Removing them by force, threat or coercion (ie: shutting off the utilities or changing locks) can create major legal issues. Eviction via district court proceedings is the most certain and legal method.

    Personal property located on tax foreclosed land or within structures situated on foreclosed land does not belong to the Treasurer and is not subject to the ownership of prospective real property purchasers.

    Successful purchasers should investigate personal property ownership, and attempt to notify personal property owners of their rights to reclaim such property.

  • Can I view the inside of this property prior to auction?

    A few Treasurers open select parcels for public .open houses. but generally the answer is not. Opening the properties can create liability and injury issues and is therefore not routinely done. You are not authorized to enter any properties to inspect them. Please be aware that doing so may subject you to trespassing charges.

  • Can you tell me about the condition of the structure? Or items like the well, septic and electrical system?

    The Treasurers have not inspected these properties for physical condition. They are sold "as is where is" in every respect. In most instances the Treasurer, staff and Title Check personnel have not been inside the structures and therefore have no knowledge as to their condition.

  • When I purchase land at a tax deed auction, do I get the mineral rights?

    You will receive any and all title that the Treasurer obtains via their tax foreclosure through a quit-claim deed. If the owner of the surface rights to the property also owned the mineral rights, those will become part of your title interest. However this will be subject to the rights of any outstanding leaseholders of oil, gas, mineral or storage rights. You would be obligated to honor the balance of any remaining lease (with automatic renewals if so written) but the royalty payments would be payable to you.
    However if the mineral rights have been severed (split from the surface rights) and are owned by a third party, they have not been foreclosed by the Treasurer and are not included in the mineral rights conveyed to you. In either instance, the leaseholder still has the right to explore for and/or extract minerals under the terms of any outstanding agreement.

  • What information can you give me regarding title insurance?

    Insuring tax reverted lands is a complicated subject; Title Check can help co-ordinate the issuance of Title insurance through qualified agents and underwriters. For more information, please contact Tom Willard at 1-269-226-2600 x1164.

  • Can I split this property?

    There are laws regarding dividing ("splitting") land in Michigan that may affect your ability to make it into smaller parcels and resell them. This typically requires the approval of the local assessor, who checks other splits from the "parent parcel" in a specific time frame to assure new splits comply with law.

    This is a complicated procedure, and you should investigate it BEFORE buying the property if you are purchasing it with the express intent of splitting it into smaller parcels.

    If you'd like to see the 70 pages of this regulation it's at:

    There have been numerous abuses of splitting parcels into sub-parcels that are not large enough to be built on, and resold to Buyers that are not aware of Michigan laws. This creates devalued "junk" property that ends up in an endless cycle of foreclosure.

    In an effort to curb these abuses, all sale deeds will contain a reverter clause that invalidate the sale if the Buyer resells the property, split, in a size that does not meet zoning requirements for area or dimension to be built on. This includes subdivided "lots" that are less than buildable size !

    If a parcel reverts under this clause, there will be NO REFUND of the purchase price.

    PLEASE BE AWARE that if you resell a split parcel in violation of the reverter clause without permission, that we will fully co-operate with the Michigan Attorney Generals office, Consumer Protection Division, to protect consumers from bottom feeding speculators.

    Treasurers will release this reverter clause, at their option, in a recorded affidavit, where the situation mandates it (part sold to a neighbor and the remainder is still buildable, etc). In the event of such a release from reverter, the Buyer will be responsible for the cost of recording the release with the Register of Deeds.

  • How much is the title insurance policy?

    Please call Tom Willard at (269)226-2600 x1164, or email us for a title insurance quote. Please give us the amount of insurance you request in your email to Tom.