Dear Premium members:
First read through this discussion on Bid4Assets
so you can understand
how to signup and navigate their online bidding system.
Then, continue on below to the Benton County tax
an online auction marketplace for high-value assets like real estate.
County government agencies partner with B4A to sell, among other
things, tax-defaulted property online. According to B4A, they are the
largest seller of tax-defaulted properties on the Internet. They assist
more than fifty counties nationwide with bringing their tax sale
auction process online.
An auction calendar for
county tax sales is at
county auctions are continuously added to the site's calendar. You can
also sign up for the B4A County Tax Sales Email Alert
to be notified when new
sales are introduced to the site. Alerts are typically sent out within
two business days of when a county auction goes on preview. You must be
a registered user to receive the alert.
B4A offers a number
of tools and resources to potential investors to enhance their buying
experience. Besides the County Tax Sales Email Alert, they include the
Participate in a B4A County Tax Sale auction:
Learn how to most effectively navigate their website and quickly find
what you’re looking for with B4A’s user-friendly, step-by-step guide to
participating in County Tax Sales.
Frequently Asked Questions: Answers to 19 frequently asked questions.
County Tax Sales Glossary of Terms: Terms includes definitions to all
the key tax sale auction terms.
Association of Counties: Link to the organization representing the
nation's County governments. On the NACO website you will find contact
information for County officials, state maps showing county boundaries
There are no fees to
participate in a county tax sale auction. However, according to the
FAQs, anyone who wishes to bid at the online public auction must
register with B4A and submit a pre-bid deposit within the posted
deadlines to qualify as a bidder. A bid deposit helps a taxing
authority ensure that only qualified and authorized bidders participate
in its auction. Funding of a bid deposit account demonstrates a
bidder’s ability to comply with a County’s Conditions of Sale and
ensures performance of a winning bidder. A winning bidder’s deposit
becomes a non-refundable down payment on purchases. However if you do
not win any tax sale auctions your deposit will be refunded to you.
Participating in a County Tax Sale
steps for participating in a county tax sale
are as follows:
is required to participate in any County Tax Sales. The process is
free, easy and only takes a few minutes to complete.
You should first read through the terms and services at
urges interested bidders to examine the title, location and
desirability of the properties available to their own satisfaction
prior to the sale. A complete list of properties available for auction
is posted for viewing and downloading three to four weeks prior to the
auction date. When you find an item you're interested in bidding on,
B4A recommends you make sure you read the entire listing description
and any additional information included in the "Additional Details" tab.
reviewing the information included in the auction listing, B4A
encourages you to contact the Tax-Collectors Office of the County in
which the property you are interested in is located if you have
additional questions. This information can be found in the center of
the County specific storefronts.
For questions regarding the auction and the bidding process, you can
important to remember that bids are binding contracts; if you are the
winning bidder, you are legally obligated to purchase the item. Make
sure you have done all necessary research before moving forward with
counties require bidders to place a deposit prior to placing their
first bid. A "BidDeposit" helps the County ensure that only qualified
and authorized bidders are participating in its auction. Generally a
"BidDeposit" is good for bidding on any and all auctions within that
County and will not be transferable from County to County. Deadlines to
place your deposits are set for 7 days before the close of the last
auction for a particular County. "BidDeposit" deadlines, specific to
the County you are interested in, are located on the County Specific
The acceptable forms of deposit method vary by
County. County-specific deposit instructions are located under the
General Tax Sale Information tab in the "County Terms of Sale"
document. B4A does not charge a fee to place a BidDeposit.
step-by-step guide on how to place a bid deposit is available at
the information provided at
You should review both of these guides.
Rogue Investor Note: A
deposit is not required to participate in the Benton County, Washington
tax-defaulted property auction. For auctions that do not require a
deposit, B4A requires that a bidder provide a valid credit card or
debit card number prior to pacing a bid. B4A will confirm that the card
is valid but will not charge your card or place a "hold" on funds. The
process is free, quick and secure and, if successful, your bid is
Only registered B4A users can place a bid.
Bid is a maximum bid which is held in confidence by the system. B4A
will use only as much of the maximum bid as is necessary to maintain
the bidder's high bid position or to meet the reserve. (In Reserve
Price Auctions, if your maximum bid is the first to meet or exceed the
seller's reserve price, the system will automatically move your bid up
to meet the reserve, and bidding will continue from there.)
System will default to Auto bid if not instructed to do so otherwise.
To choose a Flat bid option, click on the radio button next to Flat
When you are ready to place a bid, choose a bid
type, enter your bid amount in the Bid Amount box and click on the Bid
on this item button. You will be prompted to login (or register, if you
Once you've submitted your bid, you will
receive a bid confirmation notice via email and a similar notice will
be placed in your My Messages in-box located within My B4A.
more comprehensive, step-by-step guide to bidding is available at
should review this information.
You can monitor your with
B4A’s auction management center, My B4A. You will also receive county
auction updates in your My Messages center also located in the My B4A
section of the site. (Please note: Includes information on counties
withdrawing properties. Also, when a property is withdrawn from a B4A
County Tax Sale auction the word “withdrawn” is added to the auction
listing title alerting bidders that the property is no longer
Frequently asked questions about bidding are at
you are the winning bidder of a County Tax Sale auction, you will
receive an e-mail (and message in your My Messages in-box) from B4A
with settlement and deed transfer instructions within 24 hours. As a
winning bidder your deposit will be transferred to the County Tax
Collector as a non-refundable down payment for the property. Your bid
is a binding contract.
If you are not the winning bidder
on the auction, your deposit will automatically be refunded within 10
business days of the close of the auction.
deposits are refunded by online check (ACH) to the originating bank
account within 10 business days of the day the auction closes.
or wire deposits are refunded by check, to the name and address
provided in your Bid4Assets profile, within 10 business days after the
close of the auction. To confirm your profile information, click on the
My Profile link located in My B4A.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bidding
provides the following answers to frequently asked questions about
Who can bid?
registered Bid4Assets users and those capable of forming legally
binding relations under applicable law can place a bid. Click here to
or refer to the Terms of Service for more information on who can bid.
How do I bid?
placing your first bid, thoroughly review the auction description and
any additional details included in the listing. Remember, it is
incumbent upon the bidder to verify all information provided and
conduct additional research before placing a bid.
are ready to place a bid, choose a bid type, enter your bid amount in
the Bid Amount box and click on the "Bid on this item" button. You will
be prompted to login (or register, if you haven’t done so
For auctions that do not require a deposit,
Bid4Assets requires that a bidder provide a valid credit card or debit
card number prior to pacing a bid. Bid4Assets will confirm that the
card is valid but will not charge your card or place a "hold" on funds.
The process is free, quick and secure and, if successful, your bid is
Verify your bid amount and check the boxes
next to “I have reviewed and researched asset details to my
satisfaction and Bid4Assets Terms of Service and I agree to allow my
credit cared to be charged $250 in the event I am a non-performing
bidder”. Then input your credit card information – if you have
previously bid and want to use the same credit card you can check off
to use your existing card or input new credit card information. Enter
your password and click on the Bid Now button.
If a bidder does
not complete a transaction after placing a winning bid, their card will
be charged $250 for a real estate auction and $100 for all other
If the auction has a deposit requirement, follow
the instructions for your preferred deposit method.
here for a more comprehensive, step-by-step How to Bid guide:
What is an Auto Bid?
Bid is the maximum bid you’re willing to bid on the auction. Bid4Assets
will automatically increase your bid to maintain your high bid position
or to meet the reserve price.
Please note: If two bidders
place auto bids for identical amounts on the same auction, and this
amount is the high bid when the auction closes, the first auto bid that
was placed will be the winning bid.
Our system defaults to Auto bid. To choose a Flat Bid option, click on
the radio button next to Flat Bid.
Examples of Auto Bid:
If the auction has a minimum bid of $200 and you enter your maximum bid
amount of $400, your bid will automatically be placed at $200. Your bid
will automatically increase as other bidders participate, up to your
$400 maximum bid amount.
B) If the auction has a Reserve
Price of $20,000 (this amount is hidden from bidders) and you enter an
Auto Bid amount of $18,000, your bid will automatically be placed at
$18,000. The Reserve Price has not been met so there will be no winning
bidder unless additional bids are placed.
C) If the
auction has a Reserve Price of $20,000 (this amount is hidden from
bidders) and you enter an Auto Bid maximum of $21,000, your bid will
automatically be placed at the Reserve Price of $20,000. If another
bidder jumps in, your bid will automatically increase until you meet
your $21,000 maximum bid.
What is a Flat Bid?
Bid is a one-time bid for the amount you indicate. Unlike Auto bid,
which automatically increases your bid amount to maintain your high-bid
position, when a Flat bid is placed — you will have to manually place
another bid to maintain your high-bid position.
A BuyNow auction means you can bid on the item one of two ways:
If you are willing to offer the BuyNow price before the first bid comes
in, you win the item immediately and the auction ends.
If you place a bid first instead of offering the BuyNow price, the
BuyNow option disappears. Then the auction proceeds as a regular online
BuyNow auctions are identified with the following icon: . You
MUST click on the BuyNow icon to choose this option.
is a Reserve?
reserve price is the minimum dollar amount a seller is willing to
accept for an item. This amount is not disclosed, but bidders are
notified (“reserve met” message appears on the auction listing) once
the reserve price has been met.
Why isn’t the reserve price disclosed?
seller has set the hidden reserve price to protect his or her financial
interests. It is the price at which the seller is obligated to sell.
is a Bid Increment?
bid increment is the minimum amount you can bid above the current bid
price. A bidder can place a bid amount that is equal to or greater than
the bid increment, just not less than the bid increment.
Can I place a bid for less than the Minimum Bid amount?
No. The Minimum Bid is set by the seller and is the floor at which
Can I remove or cancel a bid?
are urged to use the utmost care in placing a bid. A bid amount cannot
be removed or cancelled from an auction once it is placed. A bid is a
binding contract between buyer and seller; an irrevocable offer to
purchase an item from the seller at the stated bid price. Buyers are
required to conduct any research or due diligence of an asset prior to
placing a bid.
I change my bid?
It depends on how you placed your bid.
you placed an Auto Bid, you may raise or lower your bid amount by
entering the new bid amount in the yellow bid box and clicking on "Bid
on this item".
Note: You can lower your bid amount only one bid increment above the
current bid amount.
you placed a Flat Bid, you cannot lower, remove, or cancel the bid. If
you have made a typographical error in your bid amount,(i.e. intended
to place a Flat Bid of $10,000 but accidentally typed $100,000) you
must contact Customer Service at service@Bid4Assets.com immediately to
report the error. During regular business hours (9am-7pm EST M-Th. and
9am-5pm EST Friday) you may call Customer Service at 1.877.4ASSETS. We
will review each situation separately and use discretion about honoring
your request. Bidders are urged to use the utmost care in placing a
I increase my bid if I am the high bidder?
If you are the current high bidder, you can increase your bid amount.
Enter your bid in the “Place Your Bid” box to submit a higher bid
amount. If you have a maximum Auto Bid amount that you would like to
increase, type the new bid amount in the yellow bid box and click on
the "Bid on this Item" button.
What happens if I am the winning bidder and I back out of the purchase?
bidders should be aware that they have entered into a legally binding
agreement if they place a winning bid on an auction on Bid4Assets or
Bid4Homes. Please see our Terms of Service, section 3.3 (b.) “offer and
acceptance – binding contract between buyer and seller.” Every bidder
must agree to the Terms of Service before bidding.
bidder performance very seriously and expect every winning bidder to
complete their transaction. We vigorously enforce any violation of
“non-performing” winning bidder will be subject to the following
If a deposit was required to bid, your deposit will be forfeited.
the auction does not require a deposit, bidders are required to have a
valid credit card number on file prior to placing a bid (Bid4Assets
will not charge the card or place a "hold" on funds). Non-performing
bidders will be charged a fee of $250 for real estate auction and $100
for all other auctions.
∑ For the first, non-performing,
offense: You will be automatically suspended from buying or selling on
Bid4assets and Bid4homes for 60 days. You must request re-instatement
in writing via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Suspension will be
lifted 60 days after we receive your request for reinstatement.
∑ You will be permanently suspended from out site for a second offense.
is a deposit?
government auctions conducted by Bid4Assets require interested bidders
to submit a deposit — specified by the seller — prior to placing a bid
on an auction. Following the auction, the Seller will receive the
deposit from the winning bidder as a purchase deposit payment for the
asset. If a winning bidder, for whatever reason, does not perform on
the auction their deposit is forfeited and their Bid4Assets account is
suspended. For more details and instructions on how to place deposit,
Note: Bid4Assets is currently Beta testing
offering deposit services to private sellers. The service is not yet
is an Overtime period/What is Overtime Bidding?
to when an auctioneer continues to take bids until the last bidder
bids; B4A’s Overtime Bidding keeps an auction open for bidding until
there are no further bids for 5 consecutive minutes. Overtime bidding
occurs automatically when a bid is placed within the last few minutes
of an auction. The auction will remain open until an entire overtime
increment (5 minutes) has passed without any bidding. The overtime
increment is indicated on the auction listing page.
is a Buyer’s Premium?
Premium is an optional fee that sellers can add to the winning bid
amount of an auction to cover costs associated with their auction. The
fee can not exceed 10% of the winning bid amount and is included in the
total purchase price paid by the buyer to the seller. The buyer’s
premium percentage is indicated on the auction listing and displayed
during the bid process. The seller is responsible for collecting the
Buyer's Premium from the Buyer.
What does the icon located in the Seller
Information box indicate?
sellers on Bid4Assets are authorized through an ID Verify process
provided by Verid Identity Verification and include the icon on their
auction listing page. Seller ID Verify significantly decreases Internet
fraud and our buyers are assured they are doing business with sellers
who are who they say hey are.
we start let's look at some general information for Benton County. One
of the fastest and most convenient sources of information is Wikipedia.
Simply go to Google, Yahoo!, Bing or your favorite search
and type in "Wikipedia Benton County Washington."
be able to find some general information. I love to look at the
demographics and see whether the County is increasing or decreasing in
population and its size. Benton County is over 160,000 in population,
its increasing in size and it has some unique characteristics, like
vineyards and wine tasting. Remind me to make a trip. It's right next
to Oregon, which I know has some nice wines.
I also noticed that there are two Ghost towns, the Hanford Nuclear
reservation nearby, wildlife reserves, the Columbia River
To find the main county website, search on http://www.naco.org
got to "About Counties," click on Washington and find Benton County.
Or, if you prefer a search engine...type in a specific search, such as
"Benton County Washington Website."
Main County Government Website
From the main website you should be able to find the Assesor and
Washington you will find tax foreclosure sales information listed with
the Treasurer. If Bid4Assets weren't conducting the sale, this is where
you would find the tax sale list or call and ask about it. The
Treasurer's office will also have detailed information on each parcel,
such as the tax rate, delinquent taxes, tax history, etc.
Assesor's Office is where you will find the property value, owner's
name, site address, lot size, house description and much more. For
example, I just looked up one of the property's on the list and
although Bid4Assets has a ton of information, I had to look up house
size and number of bedrooms. Try this search by using the APN number or
type in this number 134084120002008.
If you really do some looking around, you will also find some nice
Also, keep in mind the actual tax sale foreclosure laws of Washington.
Okay, that's it for the background, now back to the Bid4Assets site.
After the introduction, I am assuming that you've signed up if you want
Step 1: Find
Click on the Benton County link on the home page or go directly to this
You now have three choices for going through the list.
Bid4Assets website. The list is small enough that you can do all of
your research on the Bid4Assets site by clicking on the APN links. The
advantage of using the Bid4Assets site exclusively is the site show
redemptions or properties that have been withdrawn. The PDF file and
the Excel file do not show the update redemptions.
2. PDF file. A
PDF file is provided. Be careful with this file. The file has three
copies of the list. As I compared it to the Excel list, I wondered why
it was much larger in size. Well, it's a mistake. No problem.
Excel file. My favorite option is the Excel file, even though I had to
update the redemptions. Why? I like screening and the speed of working
on my computer without relying on a superfast and continuos web
Click on the download file and open the document using Excel, Open
Office (Free) or another compatible spreadsheet.
Screen the list
number 1 is always for redemptions because I do not want to waste any
time looking at tax deeds that have been redeemed or withdrawn from the
sale. I first compared my Excel list to the properties shown on the
Bid4Assets site and removed the withdrawn properties. This reduced the
list from 30 to 14.
I like to try to find problem. I found two problems right away. Auction
ID 484080 is a utility easement and probably has little value.
484075 has an IRS lien as indicated in the spreadsheet and on the
Bid4Assets site. This may or may not be a huge problem. Go back to the
Bid4Assets site and scroll down until you see the title information.
Click on the Title Report link and read through the title report and
you will see that it is a mess. In addition to a huge judgment, there's
an IRS lien in the amount of $386,135. Ouch! I don't want to mess with
This leaves me with a list of 12 potential properties/deeds.
Screen the list
see 12 potentials deeds. That's a manageable number so let's take
advantage of the fact that the County of Benton has done title work
mainly to protect its own interests. First, I typically start doing my
research from the back of the list. This is out of habit from lessons
learned in large tax lien sales where most of the better deals come
toward the end after everyone has exhausted energy and money.
is a nice property with a deed of trust (mortgage) in the amount of
$167, 544 and a credit line (second mortgage) for $5000. It's obvious
that the property owners have cashed out because the house (including
land) is only worth $173,250. Deeds of trust are similar to mortgages
except a trustee (third party) holds the deed. These are private liens
and will be wiped out through the tax foreclosure process. Keep an eye
on this one. I suspect it will be redeemed by Well Fargo (the lender)
before the sale. If not, they stand to loose $167,544.
is a mobile home that has not been registered properly. It also has
State judgments for $547 and $1355. State liens are not extinguished so
you would be responsible for paying the debt.
remember the general rule: Public
(government) liens are your responsibility, private liens are not.
- Mortgages or deeds of trust are private liens.
- Judgments are private.
- Mechanic's liens are private.
- IRS liens are public.
- State liens are public.
- City liens are public.
- Homeowner's associations are fighting to be
public - be careful.
- Water districts are probably public - assume
you will pay irrigation fees.
Not too much to be concerned with here. Credit
Union debt for $8000 and irrigation costs, but th house is worth
is an interesting property that has surface mining rights and easement
to get on and off the property probably for equipment. The house is
worth $209330 and includes 4.78 acres. This could be an environmental
problem is surface mining has been done. First, we need to know what is
being mined, the topography and rainfall amounts and water table level
to assess whether acid mine drainage could be a problem. This one may
be worthy of having someone do a driveby.
is an interesting Mobile Home property that is situated on 1.41 acres
next to the Yakima River. A deed of trust for 83,137 is present and the
property is worh $105,030. A question I have about this property is
flood zones and FEMA flood insurance.
Go to Fema.gov and click on map store to find out more information on
flooding and flood insurance maps.
Deed of trust for the same amount that the property is worth plus a
City lien of $2024 plus a judgment for $10829
IRS lien for $386,135 plus a judgment. This
one is ugly. Be careful.
Mobile home not included and 50% mineral
rights for 0il and Gas.
Modest home $57470.
is a crazy shaped lot. Just look at how long the legal description is.
You have to be a professional land surveyor to even understand it. If
you are considering this lot, I wouldn't certainly put a call into the
Assessor's office and ask a lot of questions. Is it buildable, for
Homeowners association fees and a deed of
trust for $256,500 for a $302,750 house.
State health liens present.
Watch out for state health liens of $2426 and
$2594. You will be responsible for paying these government liens.
summary, be prepared to add the cost of any irrigation fees, city,
state, IRS or other public liens. You will not have to worry about
deeds of trust or mortgages, they are removed through the tax
So now what do you think? It's still early, but pick your favorite five
and assume 3 of the 5 will be redeemed before the sale.
Now how high do you bid?
First, you study the last year's sale. 2009 Stats are shown at this
Benton County, Washington Results
of 2009 Tax Foreclosure Sale
||% of Value
one deed was not sold and not included in the averages.
As you can see, the results vary from some properties being sold for
well below the assessed value to some being sold for much more. Keep in
mind, any land more than about 1 acres will often be assessed at a much
lower value. So we would need to do more research on the actual values;
however, this provides a rough idea of what to expect. It also fits in
with my expectations of not paying more than about 50% of a property's
value at a tax deed sale.
1. Go through the current list and prioritize it based upon your
expectations of paying 25% and 50% of its current value. Check the
county's value with Zillow.com and Trulia.com and see how different
2. Based upon the discussion above, calculate what your true overbid
amount would be. Remember if you are considering a property that has a
government lien, you have to add that into your costs.
Go through the 2006, 2007 and 2008 results and see how they compare
Results for 2006, 2007 and 2008 linked from http://www.co.benton.wa.us/pView.aspx?id=846&catid=45