FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Disclaimer: Any information on this page or elsewhere on this site is provided for reference purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or need assistance with regard to the purchase of real property, property taxes, or any other legal issue, you should consult a licensed attorney.


Important Updates
All 2021 auctions will be conducted online due to COVID-19.

All of our sales this year in both the first and second round will be conducted entirely online. You can find a detailed overview of our online second-round procedures here!

How Does it Work?

First Round: There will be no live in-person first round auctions in 2021. Instead, all bidding will be conducted online through this site. The process will be similar to the online second round sales that we have conducted for the past several years.

  • You will need to create an account and provide a $1000 pre-authorization on a major credit card in order to bid. This pre-authorization is not a charge, but rather a hold which serves as a deposit and will only be collected against if you fail to pay for property that you win.

  • Starting 30 days before the stated auction date, you can begin placing bids. These bids can be modified up to the stated start time for the auction.

  • Auctions will open at 10:00 a.m. on the scheduled date. Once the auction is open, bidders can see the current high bids for each lot. Bidders can place new bids or increase existing bids but cannot delete their bids once the auction opens. Bidding will close at 7:00 p.m. on the scheduled date and each lot will be awarded to the high bidder.

  • Winning bidders will receive an email shortly after bidding closes with additional information about payment and necessary paperwork.

Second Round: All second round sales will be conducted online by advance bid only. There will be no live bidding. Please find complete details here.

How much do I owe if I win?

Winning Bid Amount + 10% of Winning Bid Amount (Buyer’s Premium) + Current Taxes (this year's Summer Taxes) + Deed Recording Fee ($30.00) = Grand Total

How and when do I pay for the property I buy?

Winning online bidders have 5 business days after the sale ends to submit payment and notarized paperwork to our office.

Payments can be made by wire transfer, certified (cashier's) check, or online via credit/debit card (with additional 2.75% processing fee).

If you are the winning bidder, you will receive an email within an hour after the sale ends. This email will provide a link to the checkout system where you will need to download the necessary paperwork to complete your sale. The paperwork also includes detailed instructions for submitting payment and returning the necessary information to our office. All buyers will need to have their paperwork notarized, either digitally or in-person.

What is a land auction?

In the state of Michigan, there are certain situations where a county treasurer or the Michigan Department of Treasury (in either case, referred to as the “Foreclosing Governmental Unit” or “FGU”) will take possession of a piece of property. In the case of our auctions, the FGUs have foreclosed on vacant lots, houses, commercial buildings, or other real property due to non-payment of real property taxes. Michigan law provides that after real property taxes remain unpaid for a sufficient period of time , the FGU must begin the process of foreclosure. All parties with legal interest are contacted and given the opportunity to rectify the situation and redeem the property. If the taxes remain unpaid and the foreclosure becomes final , the FGU becomes the sole owner and is required to offer the property at auction. Throughout the state, we hold auctions (first and second round) on behalf of the individual Foreclosing Governmental Units. The goal of these auctions is to recoup the revenue that was lost through non-payment of taxes.

Who is eligible to purchase property?

We work hard to make sure these auctions are open and accessible to everyone. However, there are several reasons that an individual may not be permitted to purchase land at our auctions. We cannot, by law, sell to anyone who currently has delinquent property taxes or civil fines in the county in which they are attempting to purchase property. State law requires winning bidders to execute a sworn affidavit affirming that they do not owe any relevant delinquent taxes . Providing a false affirmation on a sworn affidavit could result in felony perjury charges. In addition, many treasurers will choose not to accept bids from individuals that are delinquent in other counties at the auction. We also keep a list of individuals who have been banned from auctions either by the auctioneer or the county treasurer. This would include past participants who did not pay for property they bid on or caused a sale to be cancelled for other reasons. These restrictions extend not only to bidders, but also the payor, any party listed on the sale deed, and an assisting bidder.

How do I register for the auction?

In order to participate in our online auctions, you must first create a free online user account. You can sign up here. It's fast, easy, and free.

How do I bid?

Please read our Online Auction Overview for detailed information on how to bid.

I don’t have internet access, how do I bid?

In rare circumstances, some users may not have access to the internet or may be unable to place an advance bid online for other reasons. In these cases, we offer a procedure for manually placing a bid. If you are unable to place a bid through your online account, please call us at 1-800-259-7470 and we will assist you.

What forms of payment are accepted?

Payments can be made by wire transfer, certified (cashier's) check made payable to “Title-Check LLC Customer Escrow Account”, or credit/debit card (Mastercard, Visa, or Discover). There will be an additional 2.75% processing fee on any amount charged via a credit/debit card transaction.

Please note: Money Orders are not certified funds! We do not accept personal checks or cash!

What is the minimum bid?

The “minimum bid” is the starting bid price for property offered at all first round sales and is defined by state law. . This minimum bid includes all back taxes, interest, penalties, and fees owed on the property, as well as any other costs incurred by the county during the foreclosure process. We are required by state law to open bidding at the designated minimum bid price and cannot under any circumstances sell property for less. In addition to the back taxes that are included in the minimum bid, winning bidders must also pay any current summer tax that is due at the time of sale.

Property that does not sell for minimum bid at the first round sale may later be offered for a nominal amount at a second round sale. However, winning bidders will still be required to pay any current summer tax due just as in the first round.

What is a Maximum bid?

Online bidders are able to enter a maximum bid at any time during advanced or active bidding. This is the maximum amount a bidder is willing to pay for a property. Placing a maximum bid will allow your account to automatically bid for you, when necessary based on competing bids, up to the authorized amount. For example: if you enter a maximum bid of $5,000 and the next highest bid is $2,500, your account will automatically bid $2,600 (one bid increment higher) making you the winner at that price. The system will continue to bid automatically on your behalf as other competing bids come in until the current bid reaches your maximum of $5,000. If you are subsequently outbid, you are welcome to increase your maximum bid amount until the close of the active bidding period.

Please note: We do not recommend waiting until the last minute to set your maximum bid. Since the system bids on your behalf automatically, this can be done well in advance to the end of the auction.

Are there refunds?

No. There are no refunds on property purchased at any of our auctions. All property is sold as is/where is and without warranty. It is the buyer’s responsibility to conduct research prior to the auction date and gain a full understanding of the property they intend to purchase. However, the treasurer has the right to cancel sales up to the time of the delivery of the deed. In these instances, you would receive a full refund. It is very rare that the treasurer must cancel a sale. Generally this occurs if there was a defect discovered in the foreclosure process or cancellation was mandated by court order.

Do I assume any back taxes or other costs?

The back taxes for each property are included in the minimum bid. In addition to the back taxes (minimum bid), buyers will be required to pay the current summer taxes on any property they purchase. These are the taxes which are assessed and outstanding at the time of the sale. Applicable summer taxes are listed on each lot detail page under the heading “current tax”.

Buyers will also assume responsibility for any remaining installments 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 where known. Bidders should contact the applicable city, village, or township offices to determine if there are any outstanding special assessments for future tax years on property in which they intend to bid.

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

No, under Michigan law all buyers receive a quitclaim deed. While some other states sell tax liens at public auction, all properties sold in Michigan will be transferred directly to the bidder via quitclaim deed. With this foreclosure law, all previous title rights (with minor exceptions) will have been extinguished and you own the property free and clear. Prior owners have no further right to redemption.

Are there still liens on the property I buy?

In most cases, all liens have been extinguished prior to sale. However, certain liens filed pursuant to the natural resources and environmental protection act do survive foreclosure. We will disclose the existence of such liens wherever known. Prospective bidders who are interested in property subject to such liens should contact the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to determine what responsibilities and obligations may come with such property. Recorded or visible easements, right of ways, and private deed restriction also survive the foreclosure process.

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.

Who can I put on the deed?

You may list any party on the sale deed so long as they meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the auction Rules and Regulations. This includes persons 18 years of age or older, LLCs, corporations, and other such legal entities. Please note that all interest holders in any legal entity must meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the auction Rules and Regulations. When a legal entity is listed on the deed, bidders will be required to execute an Affidavit of Entity Ownership affirming that all such interest holders are eligible and meet all applicable requirements. if you list an LLC, Corporation, or Trust on the deed, all members and shareholders of the organization must also meet the eligibility requirements and be listed on additional paperwork provided at checkout.

You can enter, edit, or change your deed information on the “my account” page.

When do I get to take possession?

The buyer may take possession as soon as all applicable fees have been paid and the required paperwork has been completed and received by us. However, until the deed to the parcel is delivered, buyers should not make major improvements of investment. Rather, such pre-deed possession should be used to secure, insure, and inspect the property only. This includes protecting properties from the elements, installing your own locks, and taking measures to prevent trespassing. Remember, prior to delivery of the deed, sales are still subject to cancellation by the seller. Please also note, if the property is occupied at the time of purchase, you must conduct formal eviction proceedings in the District Court if the occupants will not leave voluntarily. See the “What do I do if this property has people living in it?” section for more information.

What information can you give me regarding title insurance?

Insuring tax reverted lands will often be more complicated than with property purchased in other types of sale. Some insurers are more willing to write a policy on tax reverted property than others. Upon request, we can help put you in touch with an agent in your area that has experience working with this type of property.

What do I do if this property has people living in it?

Any occupants of the property at the time of sale must be treated as "tenants-holding-over" (like a tenant whose lease has expired). You must pursue formal eviction proceeds in the District Court. Removing occupants by force, threat, or coercion (shutting off the utilities or changing locks) can create major legal issues. Generally, the buyer can begin the eviction process as soon as they have paid for the property and completed all necessary sale paperwork. You should contact a licensed attorney if you need further assistance regarding the eviction process.

What do I do with items the previous occupants left behind?

Personal property located on tax foreclosed land or within structures situated on foreclosed land does not belong to the seller and is not included with any property sold at our auctions. Successful purchasers should investigate personal property ownership, and attempt to notify personal property owners of their rights to reclaim such property. We recommend identifying the previous occupant and attempting to reach out to them via certified mail.

When I purchase land, do I get the mineral rights?

You will receive any and all title that the seller obtains via the tax foreclosure through a quitclaim 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, outstanding leaseholders of oil, gas, mineral or storage rights will maintain their interest in the property. 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.

If the mineral rights have been severed (split from the surface rights) and are owned by a third party, they have not been foreclosed and are not included in the mineral rights conveyed to you through purchase of the property.

In either instance, the leaseholder still has the right to explore for and/or extract minerals under the terms of any outstanding agreement.

Can I split this property?

There are laws regarding dividing land in Michigan that may affect your ability to split what you buy into smaller parcels. This typically requires the approval of the local assessor, who will check to assure new splits comply with the law. This is a complicated procedure and you should investigate it before the auction if you plan on purchasing a lot and splitting it into smaller parcels.

Due to past issues with splitting parcels, sale deeds may, at the seller's option, contain a reverter clause that invalidates the sale if the buyer resells a piece split from the original property with a size that does not meet zoning requirements for area or dimension to be built on. If a parcel reverts under this clause, there will be no refund of the purchase price.

Where does the money go?

Sale proceeds go to the Foreclosing Governmental Unit to cover all delinquent taxes, interest penalties, fees, and other expenses owed on the property. If there are remaining proceeds available after these items are paid, parties that held an interest in the property prior to foreclosure then have a right to reclaim such proceeds as provided by MCL 211.78t.

What happens to the hold on my credit card?

In order to authorize your account for online bidding, we will place a $1,000 hold on your Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit card. This hold is NOT A CHARGE but WILL count against your available credit limit until it is released by your bank. This $1,000 hold serves as a security deposit which will only be collected against if you are a winning bidder and fail to pay for your purchase or otherwise violate the auction Rules and Regulations. Credit and debit card authorizations release automatically after approximately 30 days. If using a debit card, $1000 of your available checking account balance will be held by your bank and in some cases may take more than 30 days for the hold to be released. For this reason, we strongly recommend using a credit card instead of a debit card for bidding authorization.

How long will it take to get my deed?

Deeds are executed by the seller as prescribed by law and then recorded with the Register of Deeds and mailed to you. The time required for recording and mailing varies from county-to-county but a conservative estimate would be 6-8 weeks.

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

Our website provides you with the best information we have available on each piece of property. This includes a GPS link that should allow you to view the general location of the parcel on a map. For some of the properties we are able to provide an address. However, these addresses are not always accurate (we are selling the legal description and nothing else). It is important to read the legal description and verify, in person, exactly what you are buying. Plat maps can be found on the State of Michigan LARA website here, where you can search by subdivision name and county in the OSLR section. Additionally many counties have interactive GIS mapping available online where you can search by parcel ID or street address and see a visual layout of the property. A good way to find these resources is by searching “Michigan *county name* GIS map” in your browser. Please note, not all counties have these resources publicly available online.

Can I view the inside of a structure prior to auction?

No, without permission from the seller, you are not authorized to enter any structures for any reason. Any unauthorized attempt to enter these structures prior to the auction is trespassing and will be prosecuted accordingly. However, some treasurers may be willing to open up certain structures upon request if safe to do so.

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

We endeavor to provide as much information about each property as we are able. All such information will be available on the applicable lot listing. However, these properties have not been inspected for physical condition and in many instances have not even been entered by the Seller or our staff. The Seller and Auctioneer rarely have any detailed knowledge of the physical condition of these properties. They are sold as is/where is in every respect. Any information provided is for reference purposes only and should be verified by your own research and investigation prior to bidding.

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

No. The parcels are sold only by their legal description (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 surveyors. When buying property, you are relying on your own investigation and information. You should conduct your own thorough research prior to bidding. All parcels are sold as is/where is and there are no refunds if there is a discrepancy between the legal description and what you believed you were purchasing.

What is a property bundle?

For any of our auctions, the Seller has the opportunity to put any of their individual properties into a bundle. Any property that is part of a bundle is no longer available individually and may only be purchased along with all other properties in the bundle. The minimum bid of a bundle will be equal to the sum of the minimum bids of all the parcels it contains.

What is an SEV?

The SEV is the "State Equalized Value", which is the local assessors estimate of 50% of the property’s value at the time it was last assessed. The SEV of parcels listed may not be a fair reflection of their current value. For this reason, you should not base your purchasing decision solely on the listed SEV Buying parcels without viewing them in person is very risky. For example, a structure that had a high SEV when assessed may have since burned down. Though it had a high SEV at that time, It’s current value after suffering fire damage is likely greatly diminished.

What happens to unsold properties?

Properties that go unsold in the first round (minimum bid auction) typically are re-offered in the no-reserve auction that takes place no sooner than 30 days after the last first round auction.

I don’t want to buy all of the parcels I won. Can I remove just one and still buy the others?

No. You must purchase every parcel that you win. Out of fairness to other bidders, you cannot pick and choose what you purchase if you win multiple lots. Please bid carefully and within your financial limits. You should be prepared to complete the sale on every bid you place. Failure to complete your entire purchase will result in the loss of your $1000 authorization hold and you will be permanently banned from all future auctions.

How do I change my deed info?

Please make sure you update your deed information on the “My Account” page prior to bidding. You will have another opportunity to update your deed info when completing the checkout process online. If you have already submitted your auction paperwork and you need to make a change to your deed info, please give us a call at 1-800-259-7470 or email us at auctionhelp@tax-sale.info. If the deed has not been issued yet, we will be able to assist you with the change.

What paperwork is necessary to complete my sale?

All required paperwork will be provided during the online checkout procedure. Winning bidders will need to initial, sign, and notarize the auction receipt and buyer’s affidavit for each auction in which they purchase at least one parcel. If taking title as a business or other entity, there will be an additional affidavit of entity ownership included in your paperwork that must be submitted. The receipt and affidavit(s) are due within 5 business days of the auction and your sale is subject to cancelation if not received within this time frame.

Can I notarize my paperwork digitally?

Yes! We are able to accept fully digital notarized paperwork from any state-approved vendor, such as notarize.com. Standard in-person notary signatures are also accepted, but the original paperwork must be delivered to our office within the 5 business day deadline.