There are five important departments that you need to really understand when you first get started in tax delinquent investing in order to begin buying property pennies on the dollar. You are going to consistently use these five county departments, especially the first three.
The first department you’re going to need to know really well is the county treasurer. Your county may have a different name for it but basically, this is the department that collects property taxes. In The Investor’s Toolkit, I share with you the exact letter that I use to contact the country treasurer to get the list of people that owe back taxes, in the format that we need. Get to know the county treasurer really, really well.
The second department is the county assessor. I’m sure you’ve received property notice evaluations in the mail for your house or other types of real estate that you have owned and this is from the county assessor. The assessed value is always a percentage of the market value. It may have nothing to do with what a property is really worth.
The key thing the assessor also has are plot maps. Plot maps are simply those maps that are going to help you locate your property. So when you are doing your research, go to the county assessor and find out if they have the plot map for that subdivision or that area that you are interested in researching. The county assessor is critical when you are doing your mapping and your research.
The third most important county official is the county recorder. The recorder, obviously, records all the legal documents for that property. They are going to record any liens, including IRS liens, and any types of encumbrances on that property. You can really dig deep into the recorder’s office and do your own virtual title search.
Most recorders today have all this information digitized to make it real easy but there are still some counties out there that are in the process. So you want to know the recorder really well. After you sell your property, you are going to record all your documents with the county recorder and get to know their fees.
The three most important county departments are your treasurer, your assessor, and your recorder.
Now the fourth department in the county is going to be the mapping department. If the assessor doesn’t have the plot maps or the subdivision maps that you need, the mapping department will. They will typically charge $5 to $20 for those maps. So if the county assessor can’t help with your mapping needs, the mapping department can.
And then finally, the fifth department is planning and zoning. If you buy property out in the city, you want to know about the zoning, right? It will be residential or commercial, and if it is in the city it is not going to be agricultural. But if you are buying on the outskirts, it could be zoned agricultural. You want to know these things. You want to know exactly what you can and you can’t do on that property. The planning and zoning department will have all those answers for you.
Also, if you want to convert that property into a higher and better use, so for example, the property is used agriculturally now but you want to turn it into a residential lot, planning and zoning will walk you through the steps needed to file those permits to change the zoning regulations.
Once you understand each department’s role, it’s easy to see who you’ll need to contact during your research. Those departments above are the five most important departments you need to get to know in order to succeed in acquiring raw land.