BACKGROUND: The information provided below is of a general nature. It is intended to give prospective purchasers of tax delinquent properties some understanding of how the purchase process for upset sales works, and what a purchaser may expect to occur if a property is purchased.
This information is not to be construed as an exhaustive treatment of all intricacies of the tax sale law, nor should it be taken as an answer to any question, which a prospective purchaser may have. Hopefully, those who read this information will have a better idea of how the purchase process works; however, it is strongly recommended that if the reader should have any questions not sufficiently answered by the information provided, he or she should consult an attorney.
SIMPLIFIED OVERVIEW: Tax delinquent properties are advertised for sale in newspapers, and the sale is conducted by the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau ("the Bureau") as provided by the applicable State statue and conditions of sale set by the Bureau.
In the Upset Price Sale, the minimum bid must be enough to cover all unpaid taxes, costs and municipal liens and claims. If you buy a property in the upset sale, mortgages and liens on the property remain in effect, even though you have paid all taxes, which were due.
There are a few situations that prospective purchasers should be aware of:
1. The fact that a property is advertised for sale in the newspaper does not mean that the property will be exposed for sale on the day of the sale. The Bureau's experience is that many delinquent owners pay their back taxes before the sale date. Thus, their properties are taken off the sale list. In addition, delinquent owners secure court orders to stay the sale. Those properties are also removed from the sale list. The sale of these properties may be continued to a later date.
2. Even if a property is purchased at the sale, the delinquent owner still has the right to go to court to contest the sale of his or her property. Frequently, delinquent owners claim that they failed to receive proper notice of the sale. If the court finds that this is true, the sale is set aside, and the purchaser gets his/her money back.
3. Prospective purchasers at tax sales should be aware that they can consult with an attorney prior to the sale to get more detailed information concerning what they may expect in purchasing properties. Of key importance is to learn the rights of tax delinquents to challenge the sales in court.
PROCEDURE: If you are interested in purchasing a property at the upset sale, please do the following:
1. Obtain a list of properties scheduled for the upset sale published in the Delaware County Daily Time, The News of Delaware County, or the Delaware County Legal Journal. The lists are published at least 30 days before the sale. The Bureau also maintains a desk copy of the list.
2. Know the address and folio number of all properties in which you have an interest.
3. The upset sale usually occurs in early September. The exact time and date may be available as early as June. Thus, you can telephone the Bureau at 610-891-4284 to get this information.
4. Registration for the sale will be advertised in the newspaper on the same date as the properties are listed. At least 30 days before the sale. No registration on the day of the sale.
5. The bidding begins when each property is called and identified by the auctioneer.
6. If you are successful in your bid, employees of the Bureau will assist you in following through the purchase process.
7. You are free to bid on more than one property of you so desire.
8. A sample copy of the conditions of sale for the upset sale is attached to give you more information about upset sales. Please be aware that these conditions of sale are subject to change.
Disclaimer: Note that action taken by a property owner, the Courts, Government Agencies and/or the Tax Claim Bureau may result in deleting a listed property from the UPSET PRICE SALE at any time.
The following conditions shall govern the sale of properties by the Tax Claim Bureau:
The purpose of the Sale is to offer properties to the highest bidder for delinquent taxes. If necessary, the Sale may be adjourned from day to day. The initial bid must equal the fixed UPSET PRICE. In the event of a bid higher than the Upset Price, the bureau will require that excess bid(s) be made in multiples of $500.00. In addition to the Upset price, purchaser must pay the realty transfer tax, preparation of the Deed, Acknowledgement of Deed, Recording Fee, title search and Deed Registration Fee. These costs and the Upset Price must be paid as follows: PAYMENT in FULL must be made on all property(s) sold on the day of the Sale no later than one hour before the close of business or at such other date and time designated by the Bureau. The purchaser on a successful bid shall make checks payable to the TAX CLAIM BUREAU.
Pay only by: Treasurer's check, cashier's check, certified check or money order. All listed properties are subject to prior payment of taxes due and to confirmation by the Court of Common Pleas, County of Delaware, Pennsylvania. The Tax Claim Bureau will issue a deed to the purchaser (or assignee). The deed will not contain any warranty, either general or special. It will take 6 to 12 months for the deed to be issued. The Bureau will sell the property as described on the dockets in the Tax Claim Bureau and the Bureau makes no representation or warranty as to the description nor will the Bureau make any survey on the property. All properties are sold under and by virtue of the ACT OF 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, known as the "Real Estate Tax Sale Law". All titles transferred by the Tax Claim Bureau are under and subject to the said Act. Payment of taxes anytime prior to the sale will take precedence over the Tax Claim Bureau's Sale, thus voiding the sale. All properties are sold subject to existing occupancy, payment of Registry fees, Municipal or Governmental claims not paid out of the Sale Price and any other liens which must be paid by the purchaser.
The Bureau reserves the right to participate or not to participate in any post-sale litigation.
The following additional conditions are new as of December 21, 1998: Section 619.1
1. Within twenty (20) days following any sale under the act, a successful bidder shall be required to provide certification to the Bureau that the person is not delinquent in paying real estate taxes to any taxing authorities where the property is located and that the person has no municipal utility bills that are more than one year outstanding.
2. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the following meaning:
"Certification" shall mean proof via receipts of paid taxes and municipal utility bills within the jurisdiction or a notarized affidavit by the bidder evincing payment of such real estate taxes and municipal utility bills.
"Municipal Utility Bills" shall mean for services provided by a utility which is wholly owned and operated by a municipal authority. The term shall include but not be limited to water, sewer and solid waste disposal utility bills.
"Municipality" refers to any county, city, borough, incorporated town, township, home rule municipality, optional plan municipality, optional charter municipality or any similar general-purpose unit of government, which may be authorized by statue.
"Person" includes a Corporation, Partnership, Limited Liability Company, Business Trust, other Association Government Entity (other than the Commonwealth), Estate, Trusts, Foundation, or natural Person.