The words "property tax" written in letter tiles. A key and a small wooden house nearby, associated to selling property with delinquent taxes.

Selling Property with Delinquent Taxes: The Ultimate Guide

Selling Property with Delinquent Taxes: The Ultimate Guide 

In today's real estate market, navigating the complexities of selling property with delinquent taxes is a challenge that many homeowners face. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, offering valuable insights into not only how to effectively manage and sell a property burdened with unpaid taxes and also addressing a crucial concern: who pays delinquent property taxes at closing.

Our aim here is to offer practical information and share our experience in the field to help you understand the general landscape and options available. But it's also important to note that this guide is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial, tax, or legal advice. For specific advice tailored to your situation, we always recommend consulting with a qualified professional in the respective area.

What are Property Taxes?

Before exploring the nuances of selling property with delinquent taxes, let's define property taxes and their impact on real estate transactions. Property taxes are a recurring fee imposed by local governments on real estate properties. These taxes serve as a primary source of revenue for local municipalities, such as funding essential services like schools, roads, and public safety. In our dealings at Fair Deal Home Buyers, we've seen how crucial it is for property owners to understand this commitment to avoid future complications.

Who Is Responsible for Unpaid Property Taxes?

The primary responsibility for unpaid property taxes falls upon the property owners. When you purchase a property, you become responsible for paying the associated property taxes. This financial obligation is outlined in the terms and conditions of property ownership. It is essential to understand that property taxes are a recurring annual expense, and failure to pay them can lead to various negative consequences.

The Consequences of Unpaid Property Taxes

Failure to address unpaid property taxes can significantly complicate the process of selling property, resulting in various negative consequences, such as:

  • Tax Liens: If a property owner fails to pay their property taxes, the local government may place a tax lien on the property. This lien acts as a legal claim on the property and must be paid off before any further property transactions can occur, often at closing.
  • Impact on Property Sale Value: Delinquent property taxes can negatively impact your property's sale value in several ways. First and foremost, prospective buyers often view properties with unpaid taxes as risky investments. This perception can result in lower offers or, in extreme cases, a complete lack of interest in your property.
  • Property Seizure: In extreme cases of unpaid property taxes, the local government may seize the property and sell it at a tax auction to recover the owed taxes. This can result in the loss of property ownership for the delinquent owner.
  • Accrued Interest and Penalties: Unpaid property taxes often accrue interest and penalties, making it even more financially burdensome for the property owner. The longer the taxes remain unpaid, the greater the financial consequences.
  • Credit Impact: Unresolved delinquent property taxes can negatively affect your credit score, making it challenging to secure loans or credit in the future.

How to Avoid Delinquent Property Taxes

Although it is sometimes easier said than done, the surest way to avoid delinquent property taxes is to pay them on time. However, sometimes unforeseen financial hardships make paying your property taxes difficult. From our experience in helping homeowners, the best way to avoid delinquent property taxes is proactive financial planning and staying informed about tax deadlines and regulations. We suggest you to consider following:

  • Early Warning Signs: Recognizing the early warning signs of potential delinquency is crucial. Some signs include financial distress, medical bills, job loss, or other unexpected expenses. Addressing these issues proactively can prevent property tax delinquency.
  • Effective Prevention Strategies: Preventing delinquent property taxes starts with responsible financial planning. Budgeting for property taxes and setting aside funds in advance can ensure timely payments.
  • How to Stay Informed: Stay informed about property tax deadlines and changes in tax regulations. Regularly check your property tax statements, and make sure you understand the payment schedule.
  • The Role of Local Government: Local governments can also play a significant role in preventing delinquency. They can provide clear information about payment options, deadlines, and any available assistance programs.
  • Community Outreach Programs: Many communities offer outreach programs to educate property owners about their tax responsibilities. These programs can provide valuable resources and guidance.
  • Financial Assistance Options: Some property owners may qualify for financial assistance programs designed to help low-income individuals and families. These programs can provide relief by reducing the tax burden.
  • Legal Remedies: In extreme cases, property owners may need legal remedies to prevent the loss of their property. Legal professionals can help negotiate payment plans or represent property owners in court.
  • Staying Proactive: Staying proactive is key to preventing delinquent property taxes. Regularly review your financial situation and make adjustments to ensure you can meet your tax obligations.
  • Property Tax Relief Programs: Research property tax relief programs in your area. These programs are often designed to assist vulnerable or low-income property owners by reducing or deferring their property tax payments.
  • Preparing for Unforeseen Circumstances: Life can be unpredictable. Property owners should have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, including property taxes.
  • The Importance of Education: Education is a vital component of preventing delinquent property taxes. Property owners should continuously educate themselves about their rights and responsibilities.

Navigating the Legal Terrain of Delinquent Property Taxes

If you find yourself dealing with delinquent property taxes, you have probably come across unfamiliar legal terms. Here, we provide some terms and explanations to help you navigate the intimidating legal process of delinquent property taxes.

Tax Lien vs. Tax Deed

Tax Lien: A tax lien is a legal measure where the government claims rights over a property due to unpaid taxes. This doesn't change ownership but restricts the owner's ability to deal with the property, such as selling or refinancing, until the debt is cleared. Tax liens are common initial steps taken to secure tax debts.

Tax Deed: A tax deed involves the government selling the property itself to recover unpaid taxes. This action usually follows prolonged non-payment of taxes, resulting in the original owner losing the property. Tax deed sales are final, transferring ownership to the new buyer.

Initiation of Legal Proceedings

The process starts with the filing of a tax lien as a formal notice of the tax debt. If the debt remains unpaid, the government may proceed to a tax deed sale. These steps are part of the legal framework used by local authorities to enforce tax payments and recover owed amounts.

Redemption Period

This is a legally allotted timeframe during which the property owner can pay the owed taxes, along with any accrued interest and fees, to prevent the loss of their property. The duration of this period varies, but it offers a last chance for owners to settle their tax obligations and retain ownership.

Resolving Delinquent Property Taxes

Payment Plans: Understanding financial difficulties, many local governments offer plans allowing property owners to pay off tax debts in installments. These plans can prevent further legal actions and help avoid property seizure.


Property owners often have the option to negotiate with tax authorities for reduced penalties or interest rates. Effective negotiation can lead to more manageable repayment terms and is a practical step to avoid escalation of the situation.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Given the complexities of tax laws, consulting legal experts specializing in property tax matters is advisable. Legal professionals can guide property owners through the intricacies of tax laws and provide advice on the best course of action.


Struggling with the complexities of selling a property with delinquent taxes in Milwaukee or nearby areas? Fair Deal Home Buyers offers a simple, stress-free solution. We specialize in buying houses in Wisconsin 'as-is' for cash, sparing you from repair hassles and hidden fees. Whether dealing with unpaid property taxes or seeking a fast sale, our all-cash offers provide a straightforward path to unburdening yourself from property concerns. 

Learn how you can sell your Milwaukee house fast to us exactly as it is, in as little as 7 days.

Can You Sell a House with Unpaid Property Taxes?

The prospect of selling property with delinquent taxes may seem daunting, but it is indeed possible. One effective method is by selling your house to cash buyers. In this type of situation, the proceeds from the sale of your house can be used to pay your delinquent taxes. The benefit of selling to cash buyers like Fair Deal Home Buyers, is that we can buy your house within weeks, which is much faster than if you put your house on the market through a realtor, which can take months. And when you are being crushed by back taxes on a house - you do not have time to dally.

Who Are Cash Buyers?

Cash buyers are real estate investors or individuals with readily available funds to purchase properties without the need for traditional financing. We can be a lifeline for homeowners who are selling property with delinquent taxes.

Following are some advantages of selling property with delinquent taxes to us:

  • Quick Closing: Cash buyers can often complete a purchase within a matter of days, providing a swift resolution to your tax issues.
  • As-Is Sales: Cash buyers typically purchase properties in their current condition, sparing you the need for costly repairs or renovations.
  • Avoiding Foreclosure: Selling to cash buyers can help you avoid foreclosure and settle your delinquent taxes promptly.
  • How to Sell to Cash Buyers
  • Research and Identify Cash Buyers: Start by researching and identifying cash buyers in your area. You can find them through real estate listings, online platforms, or by contacting local real estate agents.

Contact Cash Buyers

If you ready to take the next step and reach out to potential cash buyers for your property with delinquent taxes - contact us at Fair Deal Home Buyers. We're here to discuss and negotiate terms that work best for you. Provide us with the necessary information about your property, and let's collaborate to find a solution that benefits you.

Common Misconceptions About Buying Properties with Delinquent Taxes

In our experience with people who are selling property with delinquent taxes, we've encountered several misconceptions. Dispelling these myths is essential for responsible property tax management. It is important for buyers to understand the implications of delinquent taxes, including following:

Misconception 1: The Property is Free for the Taking for Buyers

One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that properties with delinquent taxes are up for grabs by anyone. In reality, this is far from the truth. Delinquent taxes do not equal free property. These taxes must be paid by the new owner, and the process is more complex than it seems.

Misconception 2: Immediate Ownership

Another common myth is that you can take immediate ownership of a property once the taxes become delinquent. However, the process involves a waiting period, giving the owner time to redeem the property by paying the outstanding taxes. It's not a quick route to acquiring property.

Misconception 3: Buying the Property for Pennies

Many people believe that properties can be acquired for a fraction of their market value at tax lien auctions. While it is true that you can obtain properties at a discounted rate, it's not as simple as bidding a few dollars and walking away with a house. There's more to it than meets the eye.

Misconception 4: Immediate Profit

Purchasing a property at a tax lien auction doesn't guarantee immediate profits. It's essential to be prepared for unexpected challenges and hidden costs, such as repairs and legal fees. It's not a guaranteed way to get rich quick.

Misconception 5: No Risk of Losing Your Investment

Many believe that once they acquire a property, there's no risk involved. However, there is a redemption period during which the original owner can pay their delinquent taxes and reclaim the property. This period varies by location and should be considered in your investment strategy.

Misconception 6: All Delinquent Properties are in Terrible Condition

Not all properties with delinquent taxes are dilapidated or in poor condition. Some may be well-maintained, while others may require significant renovation. It's crucial to conduct thorough research before making any investments.

Misconception 7: Easy Sales

Selling property with delinquent taxes isn't always a walk in the park. The marketability of such properties can be challenging, and finding a willing buyer may take time and effort.

Misconception 8: No Legal Complications

There can be legal complexities associated with delinquent property sales. It's crucial to have a legal expert who can guide you through the process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met.

Misconception 9: Ownership Transfer is Simple

Transferring ownership of a property with delinquent taxes can involve legal paperwork and court procedures. It's not as straightforward as handing over the keys.

Summing it Up

The consequences of unpaid property taxes are far-reaching and can cause significant hardship for homeowners and their communities. It's crucial to address any tax delinquency promptly, seek assistance if needed, and work towards a resolution. Our team at Fair Deal Home Buyers is dedicated to helping homeowners through these situations, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free property sale. By understanding and taking action, you can prevent these consequences from becoming a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are property taxes the same everywhere?

A: No, property tax rates and regulations vary from one location to another. The amount you pay in property taxes depends on your property's assessed value and your local government's tax rate.

Q: How often are property taxes assessed?

A: Property tax assessments typically occur annually, but the frequency can vary by location.

Q: How do property tax exemptions work?

A: Property tax exemptions are deductions from your property's assessed value, reducing your overall tax liability. They are often available for primary residences.

Q: What happens if I don't pay my property taxes?

A: Failure to pay property taxes can lead to legal consequences, such as tax liens and even the loss of your property through a tax sale.

Q: What Happens If I Don't Pay Delinquent Taxes?

A: If you don't pay delinquent property taxes, you risk losing your property through a tax sale or auction.

Q: Can I dispute my property tax assessment?

A: Yes, you can dispute your property tax assessment by following your local government's appeals process. Providing evidence to support your case is crucial.

Q: Are there any exemptions for first-time homebuyers?

A: While there may not be specific exemptions for first-time homebuyers, there are often programs that provide tax relief to homeowners based on factors like income, age, and disability.

Q: How can I find out my property tax rate?

A: You can typically find your property tax rate on your local government's website or by contacting your tax assessor's office.

Q: What happens if I can't pay my property taxes due to financial hardship?

A: If you're experiencing financial hardship, some jurisdictions offer programs to assist homeowners in need. These programs can provide relief or extensions for property tax payments.

Q: How can I prevent unpaid property taxes from affecting my credit score?

A: The best way to prevent unpaid property taxes from damaging your credit score is to make payments on time. If you're struggling, contact your local tax office to discuss payment options or assistance programs.

Q: Can I lose my home if I don't pay property taxes?

A: Yes, in extreme cases, the failure to pay property taxes can result in the loss of your home through a tax sale. It's crucial to address unpaid property taxes promptly to avoid this outcome.

Q: How do unpaid property taxes affect my community?

A: Unpaid property taxes can negatively impact your community by straining local resources and leading to the deterioration of neighborhoods. It's a collective issue that affects everyone in the area.

Q: Are there any tax relief programs for senior citizens or veterans?

A: Many jurisdictions offer tax relief programs for senior citizens and veterans. These programs may provide exemptions, deferrals, or reduced rates on property taxes.

Q: Can I negotiate with the tax authorities to reduce my property taxes?

A: While it's challenging to negotiate property tax rates, you can appeal the assessed value of your property if you believe it's too high.

Q: What are the consequences of delinquent property taxes?

A: Delinquent property taxes can lead to penalties, interest, and even the possibility of losing your property through a tax sale.

Q: Can I make partial payments on my property taxes?

A: In many areas, you can make partial payments to cover your property taxes. Check with your local tax office for details.

Q: What happens if I miss the property tax deadline?

A: If you miss the property tax deadline, you may incur penalties and interest charges. It's essential to pay as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

Q: Are there any government assistance programs for property tax relief?

A: Some regions offer property tax relief programs for eligible individuals, such as seniors or low-income homeowners. Check with your local government for information.

Q: Can I negotiate with tax authorities?

A: Yes, you can often negotiate with tax authorities to set up a payment plan that suits your financial situation.

Q: Is it possible to remove a tax lien?

A: Tax liens can sometimes be removed by paying off the delinquent taxes or through legal proceedings.

Q: Can I sell my property with a tax lien?

A: Selling a property with a tax lien is challenging, but it can be done by addressing the lien during the sale process.

Q: Are There Programs to Assist Property Owners in Financial Hardship?

A: Some regions offer programs to assist property owners facing financial hardship. Check with your local tax authority for information.

Q: Can I sell my property if I owe back taxes?

A: Yes, you can sell your property even if you owe back taxes. Selling to a cash buyer is often the best option in such situations.

Q: How quickly can I sell my property to a cash buyer?

A: The timeline for selling to a cash buyer can vary, but it's typically faster than traditional real estate transactions. Some deals can close in a matter of days.

Q: Do I have to pay off my property taxes before selling?

A: While it's not mandatory, it's usually advisable to use the proceeds from the sale to pay off your property taxes to avoid any legal complications.

Q: Are cash buyers legitimate?

A: Yes, many cash buyers are legitimate and reputable investors. However, it's essential to do your due diligence and research before entering into a transaction.

Q: Will I get a fair price for my property from a cash buyer?

A: Cash buyers typically offer a fair market value for properties. However, it's essential to compare offers and negotiate to get the best deal.

Q: Are there tax implications when selling to a cash buyer?

A: There may be tax implications when selling to a cash buyer, so it's advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand the specifics of your situation.

Q: Are cash buyers reliable?

A: Cash buyers are often reliable, but it's essential to do your due diligence and choose a reputable buyer.

Q: Can I get a good price from a cash buyer?

A: Yes, you can get a fair price from a cash buyer, especially if you have equity in your home.

Q: How do I find a cash buyer?

A: You can find cash buyers through real estate investors, online platforms, or by contacting local real estate companies.

Q: Do I need a real estate agent to sell to a cash buyer?

A: While you can sell to a cash buyer without an agent, having a real estate professional can provide valuable guidance.

Q: What is the typical timeframe for closing with a cash buyer?

A: Cash buyers often close deals within one to three weeks, but the timeframe can vary. Speed of sale is very important if you are behind on your property taxes.

Q: Are there any risks associated with selling to cash buyers?

A: While cash buyers are generally reliable, it's essential to conduct proper research to avoid potential scams or unscrupulous buyers.

Photo courtesy of Alan Harder.

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