The following are typical questions and answers and may assist you in understanding auction and bidding procedures. If you have additional questions, please contact the tax collector’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How can I register as a bidder?
A. Bid4Assets is handling the bidder registration process for this sale and complete instructions are available at bid4assets.com/sonoma. Sonoma County requires each bidder to submit, to Bid4Assets, a deposit of $5,000, plus a $35 processing fee, to register for the sale. Bidders are advised to arrange for their deposits early to make sure they are eligible to bid. The Tax Collector's Office will not be registering bidders nor accepting bids. All questions will be directed to Bid4Assets.
Q. How does the bidding process work?
A. All parcels are assigned an Auction ID number. Bidding starts at the minimum bid amount (the amount required to pay off the defaulted taxes and costs) and will increase in increments of at least $100 until the close of the auction. The auction begins at 8:00 a.m. (PDT) on October 21, 2016 and closes at the stated time for each parcel on October 24, 2016. For a more detailed explanation of the bidding process, log on to bid4assets.com/sonoma, click on "For Buyers" at the top of the home page, then click on "How to Bid." You may also bid by fax if you do not have access to the internet. More information and instructions are available by calling Bid4assets customer service at 1-877-427-7387.
Q. How can a successful bidder pay for a property at the tax sale?
A. Successful bidders must pay by cashier's check, wire transfer or electronic funds transfer, and payment must be received by October 27, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. EDT (1:00 p.m. PDT), three (3) business days after a subsequent sale closes. In addition to the purchase price, the documentary transfer tax ($0.55 per $500 of the purchase price) is required. Additionally, two Sonoma County cities have enacted Property Transfer Tax Ordinances and charge an additional tax. These include:
- City of Santa Rosa at $2.00 per $1,000 of consideration or portion thereof.
- City of Petaluma at $2.00 per $1,000 of consideration or portion thereof.
Only a successful bidder has the opportunity to purchase County assets. If the successful bidder defaults, under California State Law, the County cannot resort to the second highest bidder, and will be required to take appropriate legal action against the bidder who defaults.
Q. Can I obtain title to a property on the tax sale list by paying the delinquent taxes prior to the tax sale date? Does the county sell tax lien certificates?
A. No. Legal title to a tax-defaulted property subject to the Tax Collector's power to sell can be obtained only by becoming the successful bidder at the tax auction. Sonoma County does not sell tax lien certificates at this time.
Q. How do I find a property I'd like to bid on at the tax sale?
A. While we try to give all possible assistance in helping prospective purchasers to pinpoint a property location, vacant land usually has no street (situs) address. Its approximate geographic location can be determined through the use of county Assessor plat maps and perhaps, a map book. Exact boundary lines of a property can be determined only by a survey of the property initiated at the purchaser's expense. Improved properties frequently (but not always) will bear a situs (street) address. The Assessor's plat maps may be downloaded from the bid4assets.com/sonoma website.
Q. When does the right to redeem (pay the taxes) a tax-defaulted property subject to the power to sell cease?
A. The right to pay the taxes in full to avoid the sale of the property ceases at the close of business, 5:00 p.m., on the last business day prior to the sale.
Q. How can I determine what use I can make of a tax sale property before I purchase it?
A. No expressed or implied warranty is given with respect to the parcels, and they are sold on an as-is basis. Bidders are responsible for knowing what they are purchasing. Consult the zoning department of any city within which a property lies or the zoning section of the county Permit and Resource Management Department for parcels located in the unincorporated areas (i.e. not lying within a city boundary) regarding use of the parcel. Examine the county records for any recorded easements on a property. You can also order a title search report from a local title insurance company.
Q. How soon can I take possession of a property after purchase at the tax sale?
A. The successful bidder may generally take possession after making payment in full, complying with any conditions set forth between the tax collector and the successful bidder, and after the tax deed to purchase the property has been recorded. Successful purchasers should contact their attorney for information regarding possession. Most title companies will not insure title on properties sold at public auction for at least one (1) year after the tax deed has been recorded. Legal action to challenge a tax sale must be commenced within one (1) year of the tax recording date.
Q. Do liens or encumbrances on a tax-defaulted property transfer to the new owner after purchase of the property at a tax sale?
A. Chapter 7, Section 3712 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code States: The deed conveys title to the purchaser free of all encumbrances of any kind existing before the sale, except:
- Any lien for installments of taxes and special assessments which installments will become payable upon the secured roll after the time of the sale.
- The lien for taxes or assessments or other rights of any taxing agency which does not consent to the sale under this chapter.
- Liens for special assessments levied upon the property conveyed which were, at the time of the sale under this chapter, not included in the amount necessary to redeem the tax-defaulted property, and, where a taxing agency which collects its own taxes has consented to the sale under this chapter, not included in the amount required to redeem from sale to the taxing agency.
- Easements constituting servitude upon or burdens to the property; water rights, the record title to which is held separately from the title to the property; and restrictions of record.
- Unaccepted, recorded, irrevocable offers of dedication of the property to the public or a public entity for a public purpose, and recorded options of any taxing agency to purchase the property or any interest therein for a public purpose.
- Unpaid assessments under the Improvement Bond Act of 1915 (Division 10 (commencing with Section 8500) of the Streets and Highways Code) which are not satisfied as a result of the sale proceeds being applied pursuant to Chapter 1.3 (commencing with Section 4671) of Part 8.
- Any federal Internal Revenue Service liens which, pursuant to provisions of federal law, are not discharged by the sale, even though the tax collector has provided proper notice to the Internal Revenue Service before that date.
- Unpaid special taxes under Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 (Chapter 2.5, commencing with Section 53311, or Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the Government Code) that are not satisfied as a result of the sale proceeds being applied pursuant to Chapter 1.3 (commencing with Section 4671) of Part 8.
A title search initiated at the prospective purchaser’s expense should reveal any liens or encumbrances on a property in the tax sale.
Q. How is the minimum price on a property offered at a tax sale determined?
A. State law dictates that the minimum price for a tax-defaulted parcel offered at a public auction for the first time shall be no less than the total amount necessary to redeem plus costs. The minimum bid on a parcel may be set at a greater amount at the Tax Collector's discretion.
Q. Is a tax sale publicly advertised?
A. Yes. State law dictates that notice of a tax sale must be published once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. A list of available properties will be published in the local Press Democrat three times, once weekly, one month prior to the auction.
Q. What are the foreclosure and eviction processes and will the county handle these processes for a fee?
A. No, the county does not handle the foreclosure or the eviction process. The property is sold "as is" and buyers assume all ownership responsibilities.
Q. Is property purchased in a tax sale eligible for title insurance?
A. Most title companies will not insure title for one year after the recording of the tax deed. Quiet Title action may be needed.
Q. Under what circumstances can the former owner challenge the validity of the auction?
A. Generally, Sections 177 and 3725 et. seq. of the Revenue & Taxation Code limit the time to commence an action to one year from the recording of the tax deed.
Q. What happens if I am the successful bidder but decide that I don't want the property after all?
A. Be sure you want the property before you bid. ALL SALES ARE FINAL AND THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS. If you default, under California State Law, the county cannot resort to the second highest bidder and will be required to take legal action against you. Failure to consummate the sale within the specified time shall result in the forfeiture of any deposit made and all rights that the purchaser may have had with respect to the property. Failure to consummate the sale will also bar the bidder from participating in future tax sales in Sonoma County.
PARCELS ARE SOLD ON AN AS-IS BASIS AND SONOMA COUNTY ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY, IMPLIED OR OTHERWISE, THAT THE PROPERTIES ARE IN COMPLIANCE WTH ZONING ORDINANCES, CONFORM TO BUILDING CODES AND PERMITS OR THE SITUS ADDRESS. NO GOVERNMENT ENTITY IS LIABLE FOR DAMAGES SUSTAINED TO PROPERTY PURCHASED AT PUBLIC AUCTION, INCLUDING FROM THE TIME OF THE SALE UNTIL THE RECORDATION OF THE TAX DEED TO THE PURCHASER