Many years ago, someone asked me, "What do you do?" Now that may seem a fairly innocuous question unless you happen to have an illegal occupation, but for some reason it irritated me. It seemed to perpetuate the (at that time) myth that whatever your job, that is how you were portrayed as a person. Of course, people did not often change jobs then, so perhaps it had some validity, but still, it seemed to narrowly define the sum total of a person’s life as it was represented by his job.
Today, we have much more leisure time, and changing jobs is looked upon as a way of advancing, so the labeling does not have as important a meaning as it did back then. Nevertheless, when people ask me today, I tell them I’m retired. Then they sometimes ask what I used to do. Now that is almost as much of an annoyance.
I used to do many things. I enjoyed picnics, walks in the woods, reading, talking with my wife and children, and many other things. Oh yes, there were also things that I did to earn money to provide the wherewithal to do those other things. But they were not things that I did because that was what I wanted to do. They were things I did because no one was willing to pay me to do the things that I wanted to do. Why then should there be so much interest in what a person does to earn money?
For those who have some insatiable desire to know these things, I have set pins in a bowling alley, delivered newspapers, fixed televisions, prepared income taxes, sold new and used cars, taught school, been a minimum standards housing inspector, a partner in a real estate investment corporation, an investor in the stock market, a test engineer, a project engineer, and owned a chain of surplus stores. For what it is worth, I am also a veteran. Of course, that list is not inclusive, and does cover a period of over fifty years.
One thing that frequently prevailed when there was some business venture or job in which I was interested enough, was that I usually learned as much as possible about it. I frequently became almost an expert in it.
It continuously amazes me that so many people ‘invest’ in the stock market for example, and know almost nothing about how the stock exchanges and the stockbrokers work, to say nothing of the day to day operations of the companies whose shares they superciliously purchase. Fifteen years ago, I knew almost nothing about tax sales. Today, there are few people who know as much as me, and most of them (all of them probably, but to give a little benefit of a doubt) are our children. How did this come about? Through a lot of research and study.
It is beyond comprehension that people who work somewhere can have so little understanding of their jobs, especially after a number of years of employment. That point, is unfortunately the reason for this book. Let me explain why I said unfortunately.
Several years ago, my wife and I were at a courthouse on business. While we were waiting in line, a man at another window was asking the clerk about the tax sale. He said that his house had sold at the tax sale about two years before, and that he had been told that he would lose it if he didn’t pay the taxes by the end of that two years. The clerk told him three things. All were wrong.
First she said that the sale was only a lien and that it didn’t matter. This is not true. It acts as a lien until the end of the two year redemption period, but then becomes an absolute title in the purchaser’s name.
Secondly, she said that it wasn’t two years anyway, it was three years. No it is not. It becomes final after the close of business two years after the tax sale takes place.
Third, she told him that it didn’t matter even if the time passed, because the tax purchaser would sell it back to him for the taxes. Most tax purchasers will try to sell the property back to the original owner for the taxes, interest, and a small profit, but they are in no way obligated to do so. Some tax purchasers simply tell the people that they will sell it back to them for the same price as anyone else. Some simply want to keep the property and refuse to sell it.
It was so unbelievable, that I fully intended to walk over and tell both the clerk and the customer what the truth of the matter was, but our line had moved up, and our clerk asked what we needed, and by the time we were done, only a few minutes later, the man had disappeared. It also happened to be the day of the second anniversary of his tax sale. What do you think happened to his house?
On the other hand, the tax sale is probably the best investment for most people. The interest is good and there is an occasional bonus. But most people don’t know anything about how the sale operates. There is no other single place to go to find the documented information about how to participate in the tax sales and what actually happens afterwards.
In an effort to prevent this kind of misinformation, and to provide a guide for everyone concerned with the operation of the tax sale, I decided to pull together all of the information into one source, and to include copies of the actual law or Attorney General opinion that supported my statements so that there could be no possible doubt that the information provided was correct. This latest edition of my book is the result.