Real estate owners must pay annual taxes on their properties.
When these taxes are not paid, a lien is immediately placed against the property that must be paid in full when it can be sold. If the homeowner fails to pay his or her real estate taxes, the government or other taxing entity may sell the property.
With a tax lien, the seller's objective is to be paid the amount that is owed. For this reason, valuable properties may sometimes be acquired for a fraction of their true value.
You can contact the local tax assessor's office to obtain more information about the taxes that are owed on a property, as well as learn more about the process of making an offer to bring the taxes current in exchange for ownership of - or a lien against - the property.
For your convenience, this contact information is located under the property's "Tax Lien Information" header.
In the case of tax certificates, you purchase the rights to collect the taxes or to affect a foreclosure. You would need help from a real estate attorney throughout this process.