Depending on many factors, the tax sale process may take several months up to a year or even 18 months. The owner of the property may redeem the property at any time during the process by paying all taxes, penalties, interest, and fees up until 5 p.m. on the date prior to the sale. The following steps are usually completed:
- At least 30 days prior to legal action, a notice is mailed to the last known address of each property owner and even to the property address itself.
- At least 30 days prior to filing a suit in Circuit Court, a list of properties planned for Tax Sale is published in a newspaper of general circulation. At a later date, additional advertisements will be published announcing the date of the sale.
- A lawsuit is filed in Circuit Court against the owners to have the property sold at a Tax Sale.
- Once the Court determines that a Tax Sale is warranted, a Special Commissioner is appointed by the Court to conduct the sale.
- The Special Commissioner may obtain offers generally at a public auction and may hire an auctioneer to conduct an auction.
- Once the Special Commissioner has auctioned or sold the property, a report of the sale is filed asking the court to approve the sale. Hearings may also be held with the Court to ask that the sale be approved.
- If the sale is confirmed by the Circuit Court, the Special Commissioner will complete the sale by preparing and executing a deed and by preparing a report that accounts for all the sale proceeds and disbursements.
- The Special Commissioner will then distribute the proceeds of the sale, as approved by Circuit Court. Generally proceeds are distributed in this order:
- Costs of the Tax Sale process, including attorney's fees
- Payment of all delinquent real estate taxes and the pro rata share of the current taxes
- Payment of any fees and expenses incurred by the locality in bringing the property to sale.
- Payment to any lien creditors in their order of priority as determined by law
- Any remaining proceeds are paid to the owners of the property. If the property owners cannot be located or identified, the Court may direct the remaining proceeds to be paid to the Clerk of Circuit Court for holding for a period of 2 years.