When real property taxes
become three years delinquent, the Whatcom County Treasurer
is required by law to begin foreclosure action. A certificate
of delinquency is filed with the Superior Court. Taxes, interest,
penalties, and foreclosure costs begin to accrue.
A title search is conducted
for each parcel. As required by law, all parties with recorded
legal interest (as revealed by the title search) are served with
a notice and summons by certified or registered mail. A notice
is published in the local newspaper (RCW 84.64.050), as well as
a missing persons ad.
The Whatcom County Treasurer
receives a judgment from Superior Court foreclosing on the tax liens
and ordering the sale of those parcels. Parcels being foreclosed
can be redeemed by their owners, or other parties with recorded
legal interest, through the close of business on the day before
the sale. That is, they are allowed to pay all taxes, interest,
penalties, costs and fees due, thus removing their parcel from the
sale. After April 30, we accept only cash, cashier checks and money orders made payable to the Whatcom County Treasurer. Absolutely no personal, business or travelers checks will be accepted.
The next tax foreclosure auction is tentatively scheduled
for November 2013. The sale is usually held
in the Council Chambers on the first floor of the County Courthouse
located at 311 Grand Avenue in Bellingham WA. This location may
change to accommodate the number of participants expected at the
sale. The most current minimum
bid list can be viewed right here when it becomes available.
Can Prior Owners Redeem Their Property After Foreclosure?
Prior owners have no rights to the property after foreclosure,
UNLESS they were a minor or legally incompetent. Minors and legal
incompetents have the right to redeem anytime within three years from
the date of the foreclosure sale. They redeem the property by paying
the sales price, plus interest on the tax amount. Any improvements
made by the new owner would also be reimbursed. (RCW 84.64.070)
What happens to all of the property liens?
Generally, all liens on foreclosed property are extinguished.
However, the County can make no guarantees that the prior lienholders
will honor this extinguishment. IRS liens are usually also
extinguished, but they are subject to a 120 day redemption period. If
prior lienholders attempt to collect on their liens after the property
has been foreclosed on, it is entirely up to the new owner to defend
against these claims.
What happens to the excess proceeds?
If a parcel is sold at auction for more than the amount owing, the
previous title owner of record can claim the surplus money. This is
the party who held title on the day that we filed the Certificate of
Delinquency. They have up to three years from the date of the sale to
make their claim. (RCW 84.64.080 and RCW 63.29.350) The Whatcom County Treasurer will not provide foreclosure surplus data to any requester without a signed public record access form.
For additional information regarding how to research a tax foreclosure,
tax-title, or county surplus parcels, see the Real Property Auction Research page.
How does the auction work?
See The Auction Process
page for additional information on the process.
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