Do you have unpaid property taxes in Atlanta?
If so, the consequences can be very difficult to deal with.
Depending on where you live, the size and value of your home, property taxes can become a huge burden.
Once you get behind, the penalties and fees will start compounding, making it even more difficult for you to get out of the hole you are in.
What Happens if I Have Unpaid Property Taxes in Georgia?
The worst case scenario?
You could lose your home.
You will likely incur penalties, fines and interest should someone buy the tax lien on your home.
When you fail to pay your property taxes, the government will put a tax lien on your property until the balance has been paid off.
If the debt remains unpaid, the city will auction off the lien to the highest bidder.
At this point, you must pay the bearer of the lien the back taxes, plus fees, plus penalties and plus any interest the tax lien bearer has decided to impose.
If they are not paid within an agreed upon time, they have the ability to foreclose on your house and take ownership themselves.
There are people that specialize in purchasing tax liens.
It can be very scary if it comes to this and you have to worry about losing your home.
Tax Sales in Georgia
If you get behind in paying your real property taxes in Georgia, the past-due amount automatically becomes a lien on your home when those taxes come due.
If you pay the taxes, the lien dissolves.
However, if you don’t pay the amount due, the sheriff may eventually:
- hold a tax sale (called a “nonjudicial tax sale”), or
- foreclose the lien in court and then sell the home.
This article focuses on nonjudicial tax sales since that is the most common type of tax sale process in Georgia.
Notice Before the Nonjudicial Tax Sale Takes Place
Before the sale, you’ll get three notices.
The sheriff must also publish a notice in a newspaper.
Notices you’ll receive. If you don’t pay the taxes, you’ll get a letter from the tax collector stating that you are behind and giving you 30 days to get caught up.
If you don’t pay, you’ll get a notice by personal delivery, registered mail, or overnight delivery 20 days before the sheriff publishes notice of the sale in a newspaper.
Then, you’ll get one more notice by registered or certified mail or overnight delivery ten days before the sale.
How Non-Judicial Foreclosure Sales Work
In nonjudicial states, the deed of trust used to buy the property authorizes a “trustee” to foreclose on the property if the homeowner defaults on their loan.
State law determines the milestones in the foreclosure process, including how much notice the trustee must give the homeowner and how the home will be sold.
Even after the lender serves the homeowner with a notice of default, the homeowner may have up to 120 days to reinstate (makeup) the missed payments.
If the homeowner can’t make up the payments or work out a payment plan with the lender, they’ll receive a notice of intent to sell the property on a specific date.
A nonjudicial foreclosure auction does not have to be conducted by court-appointed officers; the lender typically appoints a third-party sales agent (like Auction.com) to conduct the auction.
These auctions can be held in various places: on the courthouse steps, at the property, or in a convention center or ballroom.
If no one meets the minimum bid at the auction, the home is sold back to the bank and becomes a bank-owned property.
Your Right of Redemption After the Tax Sale
After the sale, you get a certain amount of time to reimburse the purchaser for the amount paid at the sale (plus various other amounts) in order to get your house back.
This is called the right of redemption.
In Georgia, you get 12 months after the sale (and up until the purchaser terminates your right of redemption) to pay the purchase price, plus some additional amounts, and reclaim your home following the sale.
Options To Avoid a Tax Sale on Your Home
There are a few things you can do when you are faced with unpaid property taxes.
You can pay them, have them lowered or work with a buyer who is willing to help you out of the hole you are in.
Nobody wants to lose their home, especially to a complete stranger.
Before your unpaid property taxes get out of hand, do everything you can to resolve the situation.
Pay Them Off
You can pay them back with the help of a loan.
While this might seem like you are replacing one debt with another, having the peace of mind that you aren’t going to lose your home, sometimes makes it worth it.
Keep in mind, you will also likely have fees and penalties that have been added on to your original debt.
The entire amount must be paid off in order for the county to remove the lien on your property.
Try To Get Them Lowered
You can choose to reach out to the property appraiser to have your property reassessed.
Examine your tax bill and the amount you have been assessed.
If you feel that they have the information on your home incorrect or that the amount you are being assessed is too high in comparison to other homes in your neighborhood, you might be able to secure a lower assessed value.
Getting them lowered isn’t always easy.
Make sure you have accurate and up to date information about the homes that have recently sold in your area.
Sell Your Home Directly
A great way to get away from the burdens and consequences of unpaid property taxes is to work with a buyer who will help you to resolve the lien.
The team at Breyer Home Buyers will help you evaluate your situation and the solutions available to you.
Often times, we are able to help you take care of the lien when purchasing the home.
This will allow you to sell the property and walk away unscathed.
Property tax problems do not have to mean that you will lose your home.
There is a way out!