Baltimore's tax sale: liens sold on 6,545 properties, raising $20 million for city

May 22, 2012|Jamie Smith Hopkins

Nearly 27,000 city properties in March were in danger of going to tax sale, but ultimately about 10,600 had liens included in the auction Monday.

Investors bought 6,545 of the lien certificates, which raised $20 million for the city, according to the Finance Department.

It's not unusual for property owners to pay up in April, just before the annual spring tax sale. But one of the narrowest misses this year was a case in which the homeowner paid last month -- after she learned that the state had retroactively reduced a tax credit on her property -- and the city lost the check.

The city's chief of revenue collections says she's changing the procedure for handling payments as a result. More on that in this story.

Some of the tax liens are tremendous: The biggest tops $1.7 million. But the average lien that investors bought was just over $3,000.

Property owners with liens purchased by investors have six months to pay the amount owed, plus interest and fees, before the winning bidders can start foreclosure proceedings. The exception: If the city considers the property to be in need of “substantial repairs,” the tax-lien investor can file a foreclosure case in 60 days. (Tax sale FAQ here.)

If you're having trouble with your property-tax bill, see if you qualify for the state's tax break for low- and moderate-income residents, the homeowners' tax credit. The state outlines the eligibility guidelines here.

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