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Finance and Business Operations

Foreclosure Auction Notice

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  1. In 2015 the properties subject to foreclosure are those on which the 2012 full year tax is delinquent. In some cases, 2011 or earlier taxes may also be delinquent. The grace period is three years and the full year 2012 taxes will be three years past due on May 1, 2015. NOTE: It does not matter if the 2013, 2014 or 2015 taxes are paid. It is not when there are three years of taxes past due but when one year's tax is three years past due that foreclosure begins.
  2. We do not maintain a mailing list to notify people of each year's tax foreclosure. The great majority of people who ask for information never attend the auction or do any research once they find out what is required and what is involved. Further, people move without telling us and it is a waste of county resources when the list is returned. On or about June 12, a Foreclosure List is made available to the public for viewing. The Summons and Notice, which includes a list of the properties, will be published in the Seattle Times classified (legal) section sometime in late October after all our certified mail notifications are completed. A paper copy computer list may be purchased in the office on or about June 12 for $5.00; $8.00 if mailed.
  3. We do not sell "tax certificates or "deeds" of any nature. In some states you may purchase a certificate of some kind showing that you paid the delinquent taxes but we don't have any information on this procedure because there is no provision for it in Washington State law.
  4. If you obtain a list from us for research purposes, remember that you will need to come into our office or visit our web site periodically to delete those accounts that were paid since your list was printed. The web site list will normally be updated daily via the technology staff after normal working hours. Due to the volume of work this information will not be provided by telephone. Parcels may be redeemed from foreclosure at any time up to the day before the auction, thus we do not know what will be in the sale until the morning of the auction.
  5. There is no redemption period after the sale except in cases where the owner on the day of the sale was either a minor child or a person adjudicated to be legally incompetent. In those cases, there is a three year redemption period.
  6. As real estate taxes are in the first lien position, the tax foreclosure extinguishes all other encumbrances including but not limited to Deeds of Trust, mortgages, contracts, liens, judgments and any similar items. However, any Local Improvement Assessments (LIDs) remain and become the obligation of the buyer. Also, Internal Revenue liens remain.
  7. Some parcels may be sold out of order from how they appeared in the newspaper and in the lists mentioned in #2. An announcement will be made at the beginning of the auction advising which parcels will be auctioned out of order. The list mentioned in #2 shows parcels in numerical order by tax account number which, in turn, derives from the alphabetical order of the plat name or from the Section, Township and Range if the property is unplatted.

    All research must be done by the interested party. Normally this would include checking maps in the Assessor's Office and doing research through the public computer terminals in the Assessor's Office. An on-site inspection should also be made. Just because a property looks desirable on the map does not mean it is in actuality. The map does not show the topography such as ravines, hill, slopes, etc., nor does the map show what is on the property (dense growth, swamp, boulders, etc.). Some properties may be private roads covered by easements for ingress and egress. Easements are not extinguished by the foreclosure sale but remain with the land. You may not block the easement to try to extort money out of the users.

    Similarly, when you see that a property lies near or under a transmission line easement, there will likely be restrictions against building anything on the land. Transmission line easements do appear on the Assessor's maps but private easements do not.

    Some properties may be subject to use restrictions and covenants set up in the original plat. Some of these may be labeled Open Space, Open Area, Greenbelt or similar. Their use is often strictly limited. The King County Department of Developmental & Environmental Services has ruled it will not issue building permits on any such lots. You should also be aware of properties where the legal description contains the term "Drainage Easement" or Retention Pond" or similar terms.

    It is up to you to know exactly what you are bidding on. We cannot stress this too strongly. Every year people who have done little or no research or who do not know how to read a legal description buy properties that, to them, are totally useless. Knowledgeable parties who have done the proper research will avoid these properties. We do not overturn a sale and refund the purchase price because a bidder didn't know what they were bidding on, nor because they didn't understand the legal description.
  9. Do not count on buying a house at the foreclosure auction. Normally, owners of improved properties subject to tax foreclosure will raise the money to redeem the property before the sale, often at the last minute. Most houses that are foreclosed on have delinquent loans held by banks, mortgage companies or other lenders. There is no department within the county that has information on these lending agency foreclosures.
  10. Properties not sold to the public at the auction are sold to King County. These parcels are thereafter called "Tax Title Properties". Most of these parcels are of little value which is why they didn't sell at the auction in the first place. Many of these properties are "dangling strips" or "isolated triangles". The former are usually narrow strips anywhere from a few inches to a few feet wide that were left over because of an error in a legal description, a survey or platting error, or a mismeasurement by the Assessor's office. The triangles generally are created when a street or highway cuts through a lot leaving a small isolated triangle cut off from the rest of the lot or block.
  11. The County may try to sell the Tax Title Properties at some future date after the foreclosure sale. Tax Title sale information may be obtained by calling Real Estate Services at 206-296-7494.

    No King County Employee or officer, or person who is an immediate family member of and residing with a King County employee, may bid at the sale, nor may such person bid as an agent or allow any agent to bid on their behalf. RCW 84.64.080

    We do not have a bidder registration requirement.

    The minimum bid includes the amount due to the County for the tax, interest, penalties and foreclosure costs. Bidding must be done in person, not by phone or mail. This is an open oral auction, not a sealed bid auction.

    Payment by the successful bidder must be made immediately upon winning the bid. Payment must be made by cashier's check, money order, certified check, or cash. NO OTHER FORM OF PAYMENT WILL BE ACCEPTED INCLUDING PERSONAL CHECKS, BUSINESS, CHECKS, CREDIT CARD CHECKS, TRAVELER'S CHECKS, LETTERS OF CREDIT OR SIMILAR. There are no exceptions to this policy. Checks are made payable to the King County Treasury.

    Most people bring a cashier's check made payable to King County Treasury for the maximum amount they are willing to spend, whether they intend to buy just one parcel or bid on several. If the check is for too much, King County Treasury will refund the difference. However please note King County Treasury will not provide cash refunds to parties during or after the auction, to offset cashier check overages. Expect refunds of this nature to take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Refund checks will no longer be provided immediately following the auction. Funds must be immediately available following a winning bid. There will not be sufficient time to acquire additional funds from the bank after a winning bid. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

    Foreclosure section phone number (206) 263-2649.

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For "Foreclosure" related questions, e-mail the webmaster at or call 206-263-2649.