How long to hear back from the State?

I received the following question from a reader today:

“I’m new to the lien and deed investment game. I have applied for many properties in Jefferson county and now am waiting for a response. How long do we generally have to wait to hear back from the State about a deed/lien? I know they say 2-3 months but I want to know what others have experienced.”

That is a very relevant question.  Based on my experience, there are at least two key factors that determine how soon you might receive a reply from the State after you have applied for a tax certificate or tax deed:

  1. Calendar Cycle – The time of year in which you apply can be a factor.  I have observed a “slow down” around the typical business slow periods—such as around the holidays at the end of the year.  Another “dead time” would be in the September to October time frame. Property taxes for the next tax year become due on October 1st.  Typically the State would not want to send out a quote in September that did not include the next year’s tax.  Many times they are waiting for the particular county to send them that information—so sometimes the county is the reason for the slow down.  October can be slow for the same reasons and also because of the backlog created in September.
  2. Demand – The State receives applications on a “first come, first served” basis.  So if you have applied for a property and there are 15 applicants “in line” ahead of you.  It may be a very long time before you hear anything from the State.  Remember, each applicant has a 20-day “option” period.  If 15 people take the full 20-day period, you are looking at possibly 10 months before you have a chance at it—and that doesn’t take into consideration any lag time between applications.

The office that handles these has I think four employees.  They processes THOUSANDS of applications every year.  I have found them to be remarkably efficient considering the number of items they handle.