San Juan County Treasurer Real Property Tax Foreclosure Sales (RCW 84.64.050)
There are different types of property sold at Treasurer's sales. This web page offers
general information on real property tax foreclosure sales.
Anyone considering buying property at a Treasurer's Tax Foreclosure sale should
be aware THERE ARE RISKS. When selling parcels, the county conveys interest it is
legally capable of transferring, unless otherwise noted. The county does not
guarantee or provide warranty as to the extent of a particular interest. The county
makes NO guarantees whatsoever on parcels sold at a Treasurer's Tax Foreclosure
The following statement applies to all Treasurer's real property Tax Foreclosure
sales: This is a "BUYER BEWARE" sale. Parcels are offered on an "as is, where
is" basis. The county makes no representation of warranty, expressed or implied,
as to the condition of title to any property, to the physical condition of any property
or it's fitness for any use or purpose.
What is tax foreclosure?
When real property taxes become three years delinquent, the county Treasurer begins
foreclosure action. A Certificate of Delinquency is filed with the county Superior
Court. At this point, in addition to taxes, penalty and interest, foreclosure costs
begin to accrue and increase monthly thereafter (RCW 84.64.050).
Prior to the sale, a title search is conducted for each parcel, chargeable to the
owner of record in the Certificate of Delinquency. As required by law, all parties
with recorded interest are sent notification in the form of a Notice and Summons
that is published in a local newspaper per RCW84.64.050.
The Treasurer receives a tax judgment and order of sale from the court foreclosing
on the tax lien, authorizing the sale of the parcel. Parcels included in the tax
foreclosure process can be redeemed by the owner(s) of record in the Certificate
of Delinquency or paid by any party with a recorded interest, up until the close
of business on the day before the sale; thus removing the parcel from the sale.
Tax foreclosure sales are usually held once a year.
Can prior owners redeem their property after foreclosure?
Prior owners have no rights to the property after foreclosure, UNLESS they were
a minor or declared legally incompetent. Minors and those legally incompetent have
the right to redeem the parcel any time within three years from the date of the
foreclosure sale. If they do so, they must pay the sale amount, plus interest and
penalty on the tax amount, if any. Any improvements made by the new owner would
be reimbursed to the new owner by the prior owner upon prior owner's redemption
What happens to other liens on the property?
Normally, liens other than the Treasurer's real property tax lien on foreclosed
property are not extinguished at our foreclosure sale. The IRS has a 120-day redemption
period. If prior lien holders attempt to collect on their liens after the property
has been foreclosed, it is entirely up to the new owner to defend against these
What happens to the excess proceeds?
If a parcel is sold at a foreclosure auction for more than the amount owing, the
previous record title owner can claim the surplus money. This is the party who held
title on the day the Certificate of Delinquency was filed. The previous record title
owner has up to three years from the date of the sale to claim the excess proceeds
How long does it take to get a deed?
A deed will be issued within sixty days of the date of the sale. Tax deeds are issued
for parcels purchased at public auction tax foreclosure sales. Tax deeds, quit
claim deeds, etc. provide the purchaser no guarantees. There can be
a clouded title or other problems the county is unaware of and not responsible for
to the purchaser.
Thorough research on all potential purchases is essential. It is important to complete
any research prior to the day of the sale. There are definite risks when buying
tax foreclosure properties. Warning: even the most diligent research efforts
may not uncover or reveal all difficulties or unexpected problems.
Where is the best place to begin?
In addition to the minimum bid sheet, the Treasurer's office will provide as much
information as it has available. Title reports, maps, appraisal sheets and tax information
are some items to assist in your research. The Treasurer's office, though, is only
a starting point. Sometimes information available may be minimal. It is up to
the buyer to pursue other resources.
Questions about buildability, zoning, use restrictions and controls, etc. should
be looked into prior to any purchase. City and county engineering, building, code
and planning departments are good places to obtain information.
Some title companies do not provide title insurance for up to ten years from the
date of sale. Policies may vary with each title company. If you are planning to
build, title insurance may be important to you. San Juan County does not provide
Many parcels have local improvements or special assessments that may need to be
paid. You may be able to determine these by contacting the district or association
servicing the parcel. The County Treasurer may collect some assessments. To avoid
expensive surprises, these need to be determined before the sale.
Property may be subject to easements or use restrictions, as well as zoning or other
land use controls. All property is sold subject to applicable town and/or county
ordinances. It is the responsibility of the buyer to determine their existence.
Community Association Dues
All property is sold subject to restrictive covenants, if any, allowing for imposition
of community association fees. It would be prudent to contact the association for
a schedule of outstanding and future fees, if any.
All utility easements and other easements three years and older are unaffected by
tax foreclosure. Easements are listed on the title search report and will be on
record at the county auditor's office.
Physical Inspection of Property
It is strongly recommended prospective buyers visit all property sites. Determine
exactly what is offered for sale. Is there access to the parcel? Can you accurately
identify property boundary lines? Is the parcel being used by neighbors? These are
just a few items you may want to ascertain.
If there are improvements on the parcel, do they go with the land? How are they
currently being used? What is their condition?
Minimum bid sheets are available at the Treasurer's office after the Certificate
of Delinquency is filed. All bidders/agents must register and be present at the
public auction. Pre-registration at the Treasurer's office is usually available
one week prior to the auction or arrive at least 30 minutes early on the day of
the sale to register to bid at the auction. No changes to the registration can be
made after the sale. There is no registration fee.
A copy of the terms of sale are provided at registration. Each bidder will be required
to read and sign a copy of the terms of sale before being issued a bidder number
card. A bidder number card is required to bid at the sale.
Only cash, cashier's checks and money orders payable in US$ to "San Juan County
Treasurer" are acceptable tender. Absolutely no personal checks and no business
checks will be accepted. The auctioneer announces the minimum bid for
each parcel. The minimum bid includes all unpaid property taxes, interest, penalty,
applicable foreclosure costs and assessments normally collected by the county Treasurer.
Bids are made in increments of no less than $50.00.
These are oral auctions. To bid, you must hold up your issued bidder card and call
out the bid amount. Each parcel is sold to the highest bidder. When a bid has been
accepted, the successful bidder must immediately step forward and
pay in full. No time is allowed for bidders to leave the sale to get funds and return,
no matter how quickly this might be accomplished. Along with the bid amount, in
some cases, payment of a deed fee and advertising costs may be required. These amounts
will be announced in the opening statement at the beginning of the sale.
If full payment is not made as required, the parcel is immediately re-auctioned
at the minimum bid. A successful bidder who does not pay will not be permitted to
bid on this parcel or subsequent parcels at the auction.
Requests for information may be made in person or via any mail media. For a
response to written requests, a stamped, self-addressed envelope is required.
For current year bid sheet, please e-mail your request to
firstname.lastname@example.org or send
a stamped self-addressed envelope to San Juan County Treasurer, Attention: Foreclosure,
PO Box 639, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250.
The sale is normally held annually in November at the San Juan Community Theater,
adjacent to the Courthouse. Register in advance or on the day of sale between 10:00
am and 11:00 am. The sale may be continued from time to time and from place to place.
The ferry schedule is available online from the State of Washington and changes
periodically. We do not allow for travel delays so please plan ahead
The Treasurer's Certificate of Delinquency is filed with the San Juan County Clerk
in June. The Notice & Summons for parcels that have not been redeemed will be
published in the legal notices of the County's designated legal newspaper. The property
against which judgment is rendered will be sold unless redeemed prior to the close
of the business day before the day of sale.