Researching the Tax Deeds / Property up for auction
For those who deal with locating the overbids and helping rightful owners claim the surplus, researching the tax deeds is sometimes necessary for the following details:
- Find the previous Owner
- Obtain any addresses where surplus notices were mailed and/or returned
- See if any claims we already put in for the surplus
- Find out if there are liens on the property or a mortgage
- Other documents filed with the Clerk
How do you find this information?
You need to research court records to find the information yourself, OR you need an O&E Report, Title Report or Abstract. These reports can cost anywhere from $30-$100 and more if you were to Order the Reports to be created. It would be extremely financially prohibitive to order reports on every tax deed auction that has an overbid. You would go bankrupt after one day.
However, when a county is putting properties up for auction, they are legally required to notify EVERYONE who may have an interest in the property. This includes the current property owner and ALL lien holders who may have a lien on the owner or on the property. For them to obtain this information, they hire companies to create a report with all the required information. Depending on the county, they order a Title Report, Abstract or an Ownership & Encumbrance Report (O&E).
Some counties will provide this report online along with all other documents pertaining to the tax deed auction as per public record laws. We know 36 counties that do provide them easily and freely online. (In the County Courses, we do show you where and how to find them and research what’s inside).
As far as the other counties, although you can obtain the reports because they ARE public record, you will need to contact the county to request them. A few counties charge you for them (like $1 each), but most do not.
PRO TIP: Contact the county to request the Reports BEFORE the auction because they will assume you are a potential tax deed buyer, wanting the report so you can participate in the auction itself and therefore are very happy to give you the report. If you wait until AFTER the auction, they pretty much know you are after the surplus and are more likely to charge you for the report, which is still okay and you are entitled to the report since it is public record, but we just find more resistance such as a clerk wanting to know the tax deed # and your name so they can send you a pre-filled claim form or they act protective of the previous owner, etc.