Frequently Asked Questions about Tax Sale

​​Why is my property going into tax sale?

You have unpaid taxes, water and sewer bills or other municipal liens on your property.

At the Tax Sale, does the bidder buy my property? Do I have to move after the sale?

A tax sale bidder does not purchase your property. They purchase a lien on the property, like a mortgage, that is created by the unpaid taxes, water and sewer charges or other municipal debt. If you redeem the property at any time prior to foreclosure, you will not have to give up your rights to
the property.

What can I do to keep my property from being in the Tax Sale?

To keep your property from being in your county's tax sale, you need to pay the amount due the County or Baltimore City prior to the tax sale. After a scheduled date in the Final Bill and Legal Notice, the payment must be in certified funds.

Depending on the County, if you make a partial payment that reduces your bill to below a certain amount, they may remove your property from the tax sale. If you make this partial payment, it is important to confirm with the County that your property will be removed from the tax sale. Of course, you'll still have to pay the remaining amount eventually, as well as plan to pay the next year's taxes when they are due. The State Tax Sale Ombudsman's Office can help you find out the threshold amount for your
county, and can connect you with resources that may help you to create a financial plan.

Most counties will not enter into a payment plan to keep a property out of tax sale. However, some counties will. So it's important to find out about your county's policy and any application process and deadlines, and take the necessary steps as soon as possible. The State Tax Sale Ombudsman's
Office may be able to help you learn about and apply for these programs.

The longer you wait to pay your bill, the higher the bill becomes with fees and interest charges. If the lien is sold at the Tax Sale, these fees and interest will increase until the lien purchaser forecloses on the
property--taking possession of the home--OR until you redeem the property by paying off the amount due.

How long does the owner have to redeem the property after the Tax Sale?

You may redeem the property at any time until your right to redeem has been foreclosed by a legal decree.

This means that you can pay off the debt to the County or Baltimore City and clear the lien on the property after the tax sale, but it must be before the lien purchaser receives a legal judgment that forecloses your right to redeem your property. Once the purchaser does this, it is too late to redeem and the purchaser may take title to the property.

What must the homeowner do to redeem the property after a Tax Sale?

To redeem the property after a tax sale, the homeowner must pay to the County or Baltimore City the total amount paid at the tax sale on his or her behalf, together with interest and penalties and any taxes that accrue after the tax sale date. This payment must be made with certified funds.

If the redemption occurs after four months from the date of tax sale, the homeowner must also reimburse the holder of the certificate of sale for expenses and attorney's fees incurred, in addition to paying the County the funds previously described. But if the homeowner redeems within the first
four months from the tax sale date, he or she is not liable for bidder expenses.

What if the homeowner does not redeem the property?

If a homeowner does not redeem the property after the tax sale, the lien purchaser may file a civil action case in court to foreclose the owner's right of redemption. The action to foreclose the owner's right of
redemption cannot be filed until six months after the date of sale (nine months in Baltimore City), and it cannot be filed later than two years after the date of the certificate. If the bidder files within the allowed time frame, and a judgment is granted in favor of the bidder, the bidder may gain full title to the property by paying the balance of their bid, and any taxes that accrue after the date of sale, after which a deed can be drawn.

What will happen if a bidder does not file a civil action case within two years?

If the homeowner does not redeem, and no civil action case is filed by the bidder within two years from the date of the certificate of sale, the certificate of sale is void and the bidder loses all rights to the property and to any monetary reimbursement. The lien may be sold again at the following tax sale.

Does the County initiate or handle any foreclosure proceedings?

No. The counties and Baltimore City do not provide legal counsel or assistance to either party in a civil action case. Interested parties should seek professional advice as deemed necessary. The State Tax Sale Ombudsman's Office can refer homeowners to legal resources that may be able to help.

If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact the State Tax Sale Ombudsman's Office at (833) 732-8411 or at We're here to help.

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