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Can someone redeem real property after a Pennsylvania tax sale?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Tax Sale

Real estate taxes can be a major burden for Pennsylvania property owners. They need to set aside thousands of dollars each year to pay their taxes in full and on time. Especially for retired adults living on a fixed income, factors outside of their control may make taxes harder to pay, including increased property values and inflation.

Delays in payment often lead to fees and interest. In extreme cases, where people have a multi-year tax balance and have not established a payment arrangement, unpaid property tax invoices might lead to county authorities putting the property up for sale at a tax auction. A tax sale allows third parties, including individuals and businesses, to purchase a property based on the amount of the tax debt owed. Investors can potentially buy the property for a fraction of its fair market value, but owners clearly would prefer to not have their home transferred to a new owner over unpaid taxes.

Is it possible to redeem a property after a tax sale in Pennsylvania?

Redemption is not always an option

According to state law in Pennsylvania, redemption is not automatically a right after a tax sale. Instead, the opportunity to redeem the property depends on the county’s current policy. There are different rules in the more densely populated counties as opposed to the rural counties in Pennsylvania. Many counties do not allow redemption after they authorize the tax sale of a specific property. Property owners facing a tax sale will therefore need to look into the specific county rules based on the location of the at-risk property.

Investors considering purchasing properties at a tax sale will also need to familiarize themselves with the redemption rules for the location, as they find themselves in a situation where they purchase a property, only to end up losing it to redemption. Although they would receive interest in addition to the amount that they bid on the property, the goal is often property ownership and not just a decent return on the money invested at the tax sale auction.

Learning more about the tax sale process in Pennsylvania can be useful both for property owners who have fallen behind on their taxes and those looking for an alternate path to homeownership or real estate investment.