Wait, I should’ve obtained a Title Search before the Tax Sale?!?! I thought the properties were free and clear of any liens…WRONG.

Here’s how the Delinquent Tax Sale Process works:

The property is certified delinquent by the County Auditor for non-payment of real estate taxes.

The County Prosecutor files a foreclosure action in the name of the County Treasurer to foreclose the lien of the State unless the taxes are paid prior to the filing of the Complaint. O.R.C. 5721.18

  • An “in rem” action may be commenced by filing the Complaint after the end of the 2nd year from the date it was certified delinquent by the county auditor. O.R.C. 5721.18 (B)
  • If No Answer is filed, then a Default is taken against the property.

The Court enters a Judgment against the property and orders the property sold at an auction to satisfy the tax debt. ORC. 5721.19

If the property is not sold at two sales, then the Clerk of Courts shall certify to the County Auditor the amount of the costs that remain unpaid. (C)(2)(a)

The Court must confirm the Sale and distribute the proceeds pursuant to the Statute. (D)

If the proceeds are insufficient to satisfy the debt, then the Court may enter a deficiency judgment against the owner of record. (E)

At the Confirmation of the Sale title shall be incontestable in the Purchaser & shall be free & clear of all liens and encumbrances, except for federal tax liens and easements & covenants of record running with the land created prior to taxes/assessments, for the nonpayment became due and payable. (F)(2)

Upon the filing of the entry confirming the sale, the title to the property shall be incontestable in the Purchaser and shall be free & clear of liens for land taxes (interest & penalty) owed and satisfied as result of the sale. All other liens & encumbrances shall survive the sale. (F)(3)

Forfeited Lands

Lands Foreclosed under the process above (O.R.C. 5721.18), advertised and offered for sale on two separate occasions, but not sold for want of bidders shall be forfeited to the State or political subdivision. O.R.C. 5723.01(A)

The County Auditor shall set a date for sale of forfeited lands and shall offer the property for sale to the highest bidder. O.R.C.5723.06

At the sale, the Purchaser receives “new & perfect title” free from all liens and encumbrances, except federal tax liens, and any easements & covenants running with the land that were created prior to the time the taxes for nonpayment was forfeited.  O.R.C.5723.12(B)

The conveyance of the property by the Auditor shall “extinguish all previous title and invest the Purchaser or transferee with a new title free from the lien for land taxes…” for which the lien was foreclosed. O.R.C.5723.12(C)

If you're thinking about purchasing a property at a Tax Sale, be sure to get a Title Search regarding your purchase.