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In 1999, a Michigan law, Public Act 123 (MCL 211.78) significantly shortened the time that property owners have to pay their delinquent taxes before losing their property. The new act reduced the amount of time to pay taxes from approximately 5 years to 2 years. Property owners with taxes that are 2 years delinquent can be foreclosed upon and the property can be sold at a public auction. And of course, not paying the property taxes now result in higher interest charges and fees. Taxes that are delinquent for more than one year have a substantially higher interest rate (1.5% per month, as opposed to the former 1% per month), and have a $175 forfeiture fee plus additional administrative fees added.

Tax Sale Timeline

The following is a basic Timeline that explains the process from when property taxes are billed through the sale at public auction.

Date Action
July/December 2016 2016 property taxes are billed by city, township, or local municipality treasurer.
March 1, 2017 Unpaid 2016 property taxes became delinquent and were forwarded to the county treasurer for collection. State law requires a 4% administration fee and 1% per month interest.
October 1, 2017 A $15 collection fee is added to each parcel.
March 1, 2018 Property is forfeited to the county treasurer. State law requires the addition of a $175 fee and $30 in recording fees. Interest increases from 1% per month to 1.5% per month, back to the date the taxes became delinquent.
November 2018 Publication of forfeited properties subject to tax foreclosure on March 31st.
March 1, 2019 Circuit Court enters a judgment of foreclosure. Property owners may redeem their property by paying the taxes, interest, and fees by March 31st or lose their property.
April 1, 2019 Property is foreclosed. Property owners lose all rights. Title to the property passes to the county treasurer.
September & October 2019 Property is sold at public auction.


Tax Foreclosure

Prior to Foreclosure, the county treasurer will generally send at least ten written notices. Four notices are sent prior to foreclosure in the first year of delinquency and six notices are sent after the property is forfeited and prior to foreclosure.

When a property is foreclosed the property owner loses all rights to that property. The title to the property is transferred to the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office. A notice of Judgment of Foreclosure is also recorded with the Wayne County Register of Deeds.

Unless the taxpayer is up to date with their payment plan or the delinquent 2016 and/or prior years taxes, interest, penalties, and fees are paid in full on or before the March 31 immediately succeeding the entry in an uncontested case of a judgment foreclosing the property under MCL 211.78k (March 31, 2019), or in a contested case within 21 days of the entry of a judgment foreclosing the property under section 78k, your redemption rights will expire and YOU WILL LOSE YOUR PROPERTY.

Property Auctions – Tax Sales

According to the statute, a foreclosed parcel is first offered to the State of Michigan, the local municipality, and Wayne County for the minimum bid. Parcels not purchased can then be sold at public auctions held in September and October of the year that the property is foreclosed. At the September auction, properties are offered for a minimum bid that consists of all delinquent taxes, penalties, interest, and costs. Properties not sold at the September auction are then offered at our October auction. Successful bidders will receive a Quit Claim sale deed to the property. A listing of public auction dates and the properties available are posted at the Wayne County Treasurer’s office website.

When property auctions are held

Property auctions are held in September and October of the year foreclosed. Properties are offered for a minimum bid that consists of all delinquent taxes, penalties and interest. Properties not sold at the September auction are then offered at our October auction. Successful bidders will receive a Quit Claim deed to the property.

Statistics of Foreclosed Properties by County

By far, Wayne County has the most foreclosed properties in Michigan. In 2019, 3,960 properties were foreclosed in Wayne County and of that total, 3,448 properties were foreclosed in Detroit.

The encouraging news is that this number is way down from previous years as the economy has improved

Quiet Title actions

Following the tax sale, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to quiet title to the property. Call QuietTitle.com at (248) 399-3300.