6 min read May 30, 2024

Tax Lien Investing in 2024: What You Need To Know?

Edited By

Amol Malekar

Edited By

Amol Malekar

Editor, Houzeo

Amol M. uses data and market trends to craft compelling and informative blogs for home sellers, buyers and investors. This lets them enter the housing market with confidence.

Find Amol Here

Earn up to a 36% return on your real estate investment within 2 to 3 years. It’s surprising, isn’t it? Investing in real estate does not always mean purchasing properties. You can opt for tax lien investing and get high returns.

American homeowners owe about $14 billion in unpaid property taxes annually. As an investor, you can take advantage of such properties whose certificates are up for sale and bag significant profits. Tax lien investments provide profits ranging from 9% to a stunning 24%

Here’s a detailed guide to investing in property tax liens and how to make money from them.

🚀 Tax Lien Investment Advisory

  • Every year, the local governments offer $4 billion to $6 billion in unpaid tax liens for sale to the private sector.
  • Around 26 out of 50 states in the United States allow the sale of tax lien certificates to private investors to recover the tax deficit.
  • Bid-down auctions and structuring of tax lien sales by local jurisdictions may limit your return on investment to 9%.
  • On average, the lien-to-value ratios are between 3% to 7% that you need to pay to get a tax lien certificate.

What is Tax Lien Investing?

When property owners fail to pay their taxes, local governments issue tax lien certificates. These can then be purchased by investors, essentially acting as a claim on the property and enabling investors to receive interest on past-due taxes.

Investors who buy tax lien certificates are effectively lending the property owner money to pay their taxes. They also get interest on the debt, which, depending on the jurisdiction, might be as high as 24% or more. 

The investor can take possession of the property and foreclose if the owner neglects to pay off the past-due taxes within a certain redemption time.

What is a Tax Lien Certificate?

A tax lien certificate is a document that is a claim against a property when the owner does not pay their property taxes. These certificates are sold to investors at auction. Investors have the option to cover the tax debt, and so become the new lienholder. 

In the event that the tax debt remains unpaid, foreclosure becomes a possibility. Eventually, you may acquire ownership of the tax lien property. A notable advantage of investing in tax lien certificates is the security they provide, as they are backed by real estate.

Pros and Cons of Investing in Tax Liens

You should be aware of the following benefits and drawbacks when investing in tax liens:


  • Higher Returns: Tax lien certificates can generate greater returns than equities and bonds. Interest rates frequently exceed 25%, which presents appealing prospects for income generation.
  • Affordability: In contrast with traditional real estate investment, tax lien investing requires a low initial capital investment. This could be as low as a few hundred dollars.
  • High Return on Investment: You can earn 16%, 18%, 24%, or even 36% interest on your investment, depending on the bidding process. The interest rate is fixed and the investment is not subject to any market fluctuation


  • Risk of Nonpayment: If a property’s value drops below its unpaid taxes, owners might choose not to repay. This could result in you losing your investment.
  • Foreclosure Issue: Extended nonpayment will result in foreclosure proceedings. This legal procedure has the potential to become intricate and time-intensive. 
  • Owner Bankruptcy: The bankruptcy filing of the property owner risks denying or postponing your claims.
  • Additional Fees: Legal fees, foreclosure expenses, and maintenance costs can accumulate, diminishing the overall returns on your investments.

How to Invest in Tax Liens: 5 Easy Steps to Start Investing in Tax Liens

Tax lien investing might sound like a hassle. However, these six steps will make it easier for you to begin your investment journey:

1. Understand Rules and Regulations

Understand the protocols for lien release in depth. Also, understand the length of redemption periods during which property owners must pay delinquent taxes. Understand how to communicate with property owners and navigate the bidding process effectively.

2. Find Tax Liens for Sale

Search local newspapers, specialist websites, and municipal government websites for tax lien certificates up for sale. Calling the tax revenue office in your state might also provide extensive details on forthcoming auctions.

3. Bid on Tax Liens

During the auction, you will have the chance to bid on the tax lien certificate. You will then be substituted for the property owner in the payment of the overdue taxes and penalties.

4. Notify Homeowners

Upon obtaining a purchase at an auction, you formally inform the property owners about the presence of a tax lien on their assets. This notice includes the owed amount, redemption time frame, and possible consequences of non-payment.

5. Collect Money or Property

As the lien holder, you gain the legal authority to collect the overdue taxes, plus interest, from the property owners if they fail to pay within the specified redemption period.

Tips for Tax Lien Buyers

Consider these tips before buying a tax lien property:

  • Conduct Due Diligence: Counties furnish pre-auction listings, which allow for examining prospective properties. Carefully evaluate the state, values, and outstanding debts.
  • Decide on a Target Area: Concentrate your tax lien investing activities on a particular geographic region. Understanding the local market provides a competitive advantage.
  • Scout Different Properties: Not every tax lien property is a worthwhile investment. Assess the potential profit, neighborhood factors, and conditions of the tax lien amount.
  • Stick to a Strategy: Develop an investment strategy based on your goals. Maintain precise criteria such as maximum bid amounts, property categories, and return targets.

Bottom Line

Tax lien investing is a lucrative option to earn a good ROI. Its returns surpass those of conventional investments such as equities and bonds. Making it an ideal investment choice for investors looking to diversify their portfolio.

However, familiarize yourself with the local laws and scout properties carefully before buying property tax liens. Get the best returns in a limited time with minimal investment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does a tax lien sale work?

The government issues tax lien certificates on property owners who are unable to pay their taxes. These liens are then sold at auctions to investors. You bid on the certificate, essentially purchasing the right to collect the unpaid taxes and penalties from the property owner with interest.

What is a tax lien?

A tax lien is a legal claim by the government on the assets of a person or company that does not pay taxes due. This lien guarantees the obligation, like taxes, will be paid. Unpaid government debt could result in asset seizure.

Where can i find tax lien sale work?

County/municipal websites, tax lien auction platforms, and tax assessor offices publish tax lien certificates for sale. Research your state and local regulations to determine the specific channels for finding tax lien auctions in your area.


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