2021 Realauction Tax Certificate Sale Auction
Frequently Asked Questions
As a bidder, what is required of me?
It is the responsibility of the bidder to:
1) be completely familiar with the pertinent tax certificate sections of the Maryland Statutes.
2) research each property thoroughly prior to placing a bid.
3) conform to all deposit, registration or payment deadlines if applicable.
All bids placed, whether intentional or not, are the responsibility of the bidder.
What is a Tax Lien?
A tax lien is a document representing unpaid real estate taxes, assessments, penalties, advertising costs, fees and other charges that are statutory liens on the property. If the property owner fails to pay these charges during a specified period of time, the county government will hold a tax sale and sell tax lien certificates to investors to recoup the delinquent charges.
Where can I find more information about tax liens and certificate auctions?
Delinquent taxes, tax liens and the sale of tax certificates at public auction are administered by the Bureau Chief Tax Collectors and regulations are provided for in Section 14 of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of the State of Maryland.
It is the bidder's responsibility to know the law governing these sales prior to participating in a tax certificate sale.
I am not a US citizen. Will I still be able to participate in the sale?
Some counties will only accept bidder registrations for U.S. persons or other U.S. entities as defined in IRS Form W-9. For those counties, registrations utilizing an ITIN or foreign registrants requiring IRS Form W-8 or any other non-US registration type will not be accepted.
Any bidder who knowingly registers improperly shall have their winnings reversed by the Bureau Chief and the user’s account will be disabled.
Please visit the Business Rules page to determine if this county permits the registration of foreign bidding entities.
What equipment and software will I need?
There is no special software or hardware needed. In order to participate, bidders must have a computer with access to the Internet. For those without internet access, computers may be available for public use at designated locations in the county.
Realauction.com only supports the latest two versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers. No other web browsers are supported.
Please visit the Business Rules page for information regarding public access in this county.
Is training available for the auction software and how do I get it?
A number of bidder training classes will be held live via the Internet prior to the close of the auction. These webinar classes generally last about 90 minutes and cover the rules of the auction and use of the web site only.
Please visit the training page for additional information on upcoming bidder training classes.
What is a batch?
The certificates being advertised are sold individually and in the order they are advertised. However, in order to make the bidding process more manageable, certificates are divided into groups called "batches".
How much does it cost to participate?
Registration Fee - In Maryland, a registration fee may be required to particpate in the tax sale auction. The amount of the registration fee varies by county and may or may not be applied toward winning bids. Depending on the county, the fee may or may not be refundable.
Budgets - Some counties do not require a deposit. Instead, the bidder creates a “budget” based on the total face amount plus premiums of certificates they anticipate winning. The budget must be created before bids can be placed.
A budget will limit how much a bidder can win no matter how many bids are placed. Once the bidder has won certificates equal to the amount of their budget all other bids placed will be ignored.
Please visit the Business Rules page for the registration fee and budget requirement for this county.
How do I pay for my registration fee and certificates purchased?
Payment methods vary for each county. Generally, the registration fee and final payment are made via ACH (electronic check).
ACH (Automated Clearing House) - If the county accepts ACH (electronic check) transactions as a registration fee and final payment method, fund transfers will be made on this web site, using the ACH wizard provided. Bank accounts utilized to create electronic check transactions must allow ACH debits.
Unless otherwise specified, ACH transactions generated on this site are "one-time" only authorizations. If you are a successful bidder and owe money to the Bureau Chief, you must initiate a separate ACH transaction, in the time allotted, to make your final payment.
Some counties have adopted an auto-debit policy for final payments whereby bidders either place their registration fee with ACH or complete an ACH pre-authorization form prior to placing bids. At the close of the sale, successful bidders are automatically debited for their final payment using the bank account information provided. There is a potential for a successful bidder's balance due to exceed authorized ACH transaction limits authorized by the Baltimore City. If this occurs, the successful bidder will be required to make their final payment via wire transfer and will be contacted by Realauction Customer Service with instructions.
Wire transfers and counter payments - Wire transfers, cash, cashier’s checks and money orders may also be accepted, however, these forms of payment are not processed online and must be delivered to the designated Bureau Chief's office by the date/time specified.
It is the bidder’s responsibility to make all registration fee and final payments in the time specified using the payment method(s) permitted. There will be NO exceptions.
Some banks charge a handling fee for wire transactions. If required, it is the bidder’s responsibility to add any additional fees to the amount wired to ensure full payment reaches the Bureau Chief’s account in the time allotted.
Please visit the Business Rules page for the registration fee/payment methods permitted and/or the ACH policy utilized in this county.
When does the auction start and end? How does the auction work?
The auction web site generally opens for registration, submitting registration fees, research and in some cases preliminary bidding approximately 3-4 weeks prior to the official auction date. The day of the auction, as each batch closes, preliminary bids are submitted and made official.
The auction officially begins when the certificates in batch 1 are awarded. Each subsequent batch will close every 30-60 minutes (depending on the county) until the last batch closes when the auction ends.
If you are monitoring the site on the day of the sale, you will be able to see what you have purchased at the end of each batch and may adjust your bids on any batches that have not closed.
Please visit the Business Rules page for the auction dates and times in this county.
How does the bidding work?
Auction participants enter their highest acceptable bid for the property. Valid bids may be entered as either a percentage of the Assessed Value or as a dollar amount.
At the close of each batch, the auction software evaluates all bids with a valid budget and the certificate is awarded to the bidder with the highest bid.
It is the bidder’s responsibility to research properties prior to placing bids.
What is a live bid auction? What is a sealed bid auction?
Open - Live bid auction - The auction bidding is live and the current high bid is displayed. Bids must exceed the current high bid to be placed.
Closed - Sealed bid auction - The auction bidding is sealed and bidders cannot see any other bids, but their own. The current high bid is not displayed.
Please visit the Business Rules page to determine if a live or sealed bid auction is utilized in this county.
What is a direct bid auction? What is a proxy bid auction?
Direct bid auction - Auction participants enter their highest acceptable bid for an item. If you are the highest bidder, you will be awarded the lien/certificate at the price entered. The system will not enter competitve bids on your behalf.
Proxy bid auction - Auction participants enter their highest acceptable bid for an item. The auction system then checks all other bids and enters a bid on your behalf at one increment greater than the next highest bidder. The system stops entering bids on your behalf when you either win the auction or your maximum acceptable bid is reached.
Please visit the Business Rules page to determine if direct or proxy bidding is utilized in this county.
What is a maximum high bid? What is a high-bid premium?
Maximum High Bid - Some counties use a maximum high bid. The maximum high bid is displayed on the bid page and the winning bid cannot exceed that maximum high bid amount.
High-Bid Premium - Some counties may establish a high-bid premium to be applied. The high-bid premium shall be 20% of the amount by which the highest bid exceeds 40% of the property's assessed value.
Please visit the Business Rules page to determine if maximum high bid or premiums are utilized in this county.
What happens if I exhaust my budget/batch limit while I still have active bids?
Any bids remaining after your budget is exhausted will be ignored. Budgets must be authorized on the web site no later than the deposit due date/time specified.
Please note: Budgets, and Batch Limits take into account Face Value plus premiums (where applicable).
Can I have more than one bidding account? Can I register multiple bidding entities?
Primary accounts - Upon registration, a single bidder account or "Primary" account is created for each User. This is typically all you will need to become a bidder and participate in one of the tax certificate sales. Some counties will allow users to register and manage multiple Primary accounts.
Single Simultaneous Bidding Entity - Some counties have adopted a Single Simultaneous Bidding Entity rule which states that each User (bidding entity) shall register only once for the purpose of bidding on or purchasing tax certificates, AND, shall not have a financial, legal or contractual relationship with any other bidder (bidding entity) registered in that county.
Sub-accounts - In some counties, users may add additional accounts under their Primary. These are known as Sub-accounts and allow one buyer to easily administer multiple bidder accounts. If the county permits them, they may be added using the Sub-account tool provided. All deposit, budget and bid actions performed by the Primary will be automatically replicated to all sub-accounts associated with that account.
Please visit the Business Rules page to determine if multiple bidder accounts or sub-accounts are permitted in this county.
What happens in case of a tie bid?
Ties will only happen in a sealed bid auction style. A tie is created when two or more primary accounts bid the same bid amount. In the case of a tie, a winning bidder will be selected at random by the auction software.
What happens if I don’t pay for successful bids?
If the successful bidder fails to pay for certificates purchased for any reason, the deposit (where applicable) shall be forfeited, all bids will be cancelled and future bidding privileges may be revoked.
All bids placed, intentional or not, are the responsibility of the bidder.
The auction is closed, what happens next?
Successful bidders will receive an email with an accounting of their winnings and final payment amounts due. Certificates issued for tax liens that were not sold during the auction are struck to the County and may be available for purchase from the Treasurer's office once the auction is closed and balanced.
How do I get started?
Click here to register. The step by step wizard will guide you through the registration process in just a few minutes.
How do I contact Customer Service?
Click here for Customer Service.
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