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A user’s guide to the Harris County Tax Auction in Houston, Texas

No matter your experience level as an investor, this live auction has it all. Here are a few things we saw this past Tuesday:

The auction begins at 10:00 a.m. CST. Promptly at this time the various auctioneers will start to read the disclosures. If you have never been part of this event, they speak rapidly, and you are not in a position to really hear them very well. For these reasons, I recommend that you understand these disclosures before ever bidding.

You can register to bid at several different types of auctions, so get there at 9:30 to make sure you can get through both registration booths if you want to do both sides of the auction. You give them your information, and they’ll issue you a number to bid with.

Tax liens and other types of foreclosures conducted by the constable precincts are cried with precision. These events are located to left as you walk into the venue. They wrap around the building, taking up the majority of space.

The prices range from very little to extremely high amounts. In this scenario, it may be only the beginning, since Texas has redemption rights on various foreclosure types. If you want to participate in these opportunities, make sure you consult with your attorney or your title company so you are fully aware of all the risks and rewards that can be part of these foreclosures.

Auction.com cries properties that banks may or may not use local trustees for. As you enter the venue, on the right-hand side you have to register with Auction.com to get your bidding number. This typically doesn’t take long. As you complete your information, go straight in and hang a right. There you will see two monitors set up with two auctioneers and their teams crying properties. This is an extremely fast-paced activity that starts after they read about five minutes’ worth of disclosures at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Then, the organized chaos begins. Auctioneers cry the properties very quickly. And if you’re fortunate enough to win the auction, you have to step off to the side with one of the team members to fill out your paperwork while the auction continues. Realize that these are very competitive events, and many groups of investors are working together to “take down” several properties at a time.

Local trustees also cry auctions in the same room as Auction.com. There are usually at least five of these auctions going on at the same time. While they don’t have the same volume of properties being cried as auction.com, they are definitely fun. Smaller teams taking your payment and bidding information make it difficult to “take down” more than one property unless you’re working in teams.

This quick overview should help guide you through some of the mechanics of the tax auction. Keep in mind that title searches are not part of the auction. You purchase the property or land “as-is” and usually do not have access to homes prior to the auction. Make sure you do your homework before attending the auction because of the high volume of properties. Early estimates reported around 1,100 properties were to be sold.

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