Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Profit From Property Taxes

Steve Sjuggerud shares a smart way to profit from property taxes by buying a tax certificate from the county. By paying another homeowner's property taxes, you can receive your money back plus all the late fees once they pay their taxes with virtually no risk. See the following post from Daily Wealth.

I got a nice Christmas surprise... a check in the mail for about $2,250.

It is the easiest 18% interest I've ever earned. And – as I will explain – I feel like I had no risk in the deal... at all.

You can easily do the same thing I did. Here's the story...

Here in Florida, if you don't pay your property tax, you're hit with late fees. As you might expect, the later you are in paying your taxes, the more the late fees rack up.

Of course, it's foolish not to pay your property taxes... because ultimately your property can be sold out from under you, literally on the county courthouse steps, just to recoup the back taxes due to the government.

In plain English, YES, you can lose your $100,000 property – over a couple thousand dollars of late property taxes. Ouch!

I took advantage of this situation. I invested in a no-risk way... My possible outcomes were to either get:

1) 18% interest over up to two years, or (in a much less likely case)
2) the property.

Now how does that work?

In short, the county can't wait for you to pay your property taxes if you're late. It needs your property tax money RIGHT NOW. And it's going to get that money from someone else, if not from you.

As soon as you're late on your property taxes, the county sells a "tax certificate." That's what I bought. Basically, the county strikes a deal with the buyer of the tax certificate (in this case, me). It goes like this:

"If you pay Mr. Jones' property taxes today through buying this tax certificate, then we (the county) will pay you back all your money PLUS all Mr. Jones' late fees, once Mr. Jones pays his taxes."

Well, Mr. Jones just paid his taxes. And I just got a nice Christmas check.

The key to turning tax certificates into a "no risk" 18% is knowing the property... This is actually pretty easy, too.

I know the property I just got paid on pretty well... as well as you need to. Let me tell you about it.

The property is about two miles from both my home and my office. It's about a mile from the beach. It is an empty lot (0.38 acres) in a neighborhood. The owners paid six figures for it.

It was simple. No issues... a six-figure empty lot not far from the beach that the owners didn't pay taxes on.

Now they're caught up on their taxes. And I received 18% interest for my troubles... which were hardly more than driving by the lot, looking at it on the property appraiser's website, and then clicking to buy the tax certificate just like I was buying a book on Amazon.

Seriously, what's my risk in this deal? The main risk is if the property is not worth what you pay for the back taxes. But this is a problem that's easy to avoid as long as you know the property you're buying. A $2,000 certificate on a six-figure empty lot is perfect.

I'm telling you this story so you start saving to buy tax certificates when "the season" kicks in again.

This time of year is not the time to buy tax certificates. The time to buy them is in the summer... when counties start to sell them again.

Taxes are usually officially late by April 1. And the tax sales usually start in late May. I bought in July, when I could get a guaranteed 18% interest.

You can actually do much better than Florida, by the way... Iowa, for example, has a guaranteed 24% interest. And don't even get me started on Texas... the penalty STARTS at 25%.

But my experience is in Florida. I live here. All the properties I have 18% tax certificates on are empty lots within a couple miles of my home – most of which are just a few hundred feet from either the ocean or the intercoastal waterway. I am confident I'll either end up with 18% interest or the property – and I am quite happy to get either.

It sure is nice to get random checks from the government for a few thousand dollars at a time...

Start learning now about tax certificates and tax deeds (skip the Internet and instead buy the first few books you can find on Amazon related to this topic). And when the "season" kicks in again, get yourself in line for your own no-risk 18% interest checks.

This post has been republished from Steve Sjuggerud's blog, Daily Wealth.

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