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How long do homeowners have to redeem a house after a tax sale?

On Behalf of | Aug 7, 2023 | Real Estate Law

The home where someone lives is often their most valuable personal asset. They may contribute as much as a third of their monthly income toward their mortgage and escrow accounts for 30 years or even longer. Most people would do just about anything within their power to protect their homeownership, even if it means working a second job or making sacrifices elsewhere in their lives.

Sadly, quite a few Pennsylvania property owners, particularly those living on a fixed income or struggling with a sudden loss of income, can fall behind on their financial obligations. Even after someone repays their mortgage in full, they will still need to pay property taxes each year, and failing to do so could put their continued ownership of the property at risk.

Those with delinquent property taxes may end up at risk of losing their home through a tax sale. The state can auction off the property to collect the unpaid taxes. How long does someone who has fallen behind on property taxes have to redeem their home after a tax sale in Pennsylvania?

Most property owners have nine months for redemption

For a property to be eligible for redemption after a tax sale, the property will generally need to have been owner-occupied prior to the tax sale. Even after the sheriff transfers the deed for the property to someone capable of purchasing and paying the tax debt, the original owner has the option of redeeming the property by paying the amount owed and interest in full. Generally speaking, redemption is only possible for nine months after the transfer of title by the sheriff. Redemption will require collecting enough cash to pay the full balance of the tax debt and the interest accrued after the tax sale.

What does the redemption period mean for property owners and investors?

For those who own a residence and worry about losing the title to their property because of unpaid taxes, the redemption period offers a means of protecting one’s investments. For those hoping to acquire or invest in property via a tax sale, the nine-month redemption period for owners in Pennsylvania means that they may need to delay making major repairs to the property or attempting to take possession of it until after the risk of redemption has passed.

Those who understand the rules will be in a better position to acquire property at a tax sale or protect the home where they live. Learning more about the rules for tax sales can therefore benefit both homeowners and those seeking to invest in Pennsylvania real property alike.