Sheriff Sale Properties Help Recover Taxes in Philadelphia

There probably is no perfect scenario when a property is listed, by court
order, for a Sheriff Sale. Most often it means a family may be losing their
home for a variety of reasons, often because of illness, job loss or other
situations that may be out of their control.

One benefit to Philadelphia residents is that the majority of new buyers that
purchase property at Sheriff Sales pay real estate taxes and keep them
current according to a sample review undertaken by the Philadelphia
Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Jewell Williams sought to determine the degree that properties
subjected to Sheriff Sale by order of the First Judicial District become and
remain tax compliant. The Sheriff’s Office reviewed the tax status of all
properties sold at the mortgage foreclosure, tax delinquent, and tax lien
sales for the months of November 2016 and November 2015.
City records indicate that 344 or 73% of the 469 properties sold in
November 2016 were current on their city 2017 real estate property tax.
That is a significant boost to the city revenue stream.

Tax records indicate that only 316 of the 471 properties sold in November
2015 were compliant in paying real estate taxes for 2016 and 2017. From
that small sampling we are able to see that 660 properties returned to
being tax compliant and current after years of dereliction of obligation to the
city and the school district.

In addition to recovering private and public debts, the purpose of the Sheriff
Sale is to return tax delinquent properties to the tax rolls. Because tax
delinquent properties receive city services such as police and fire
protection and trash pickup they are a burden to the City and often a blight
to its neighborhood.

In Pennsylvania the Sheriff Sales are the last step in the process to collect
delinquent debts including taxes and utility fees. Properties are brought to
Sheriff Sale through the courts requested by lenders and taxing authorities
who are owed money. If the owner does not make arrangements to satisfy
the debt, the property is sold at a court ordered public auction handled by
the Sheriff. The purchaser is expected to pay real estate and other city and
county obligations going forward and must be tax compliant with the city for
one year prior to the purchase.

The goal of this analysis was to get a sense of how many properties sold
through a Philadelphia Sheriff sale returned to fulfilling tax obligations.