Reversing a Georgia foreclosure initiated by the bank that holds the mortgage on your home is not possible. In other words, once the sale is actually cried out on the courthouse steps and sold to the highest bidder, there is almost nothing you can do to reverse the sale.
But the same does not hold true for property tax foreclosures. Georgia law provides tax payers a statutory right of redemption, which means that if you pay the appropriate costs to the purchaser of the property, the purchaser is required to turn it back over to you. When you fail to pay your property taxes, the local taxing authority – usually the county in which your home is located – can collect in a number of ways, but the most common way is to initiate a Non-Judicial Tax Sale.
Non-Judicial Tax Sale
Once the deadline passes for you to pay your property taxes, the tax commissioner can notify the taxpayer in writing of the fact that the taxes are due for the prior year and that unless the taxes are paid within 30 days, a writ of execution or Fiera Facia (FiFa) will be entered. A FiFa is essentially a tax lien.
At anytime after the FiFa is recorded, the county may turn the matter over to the sheriff for levy. For instance, if your property were located in Cobb County, the sheriff would have to advertise the property tax sale in the Marietta Daily Journal. If your property were located in Fulton County, the Daily Report would be the paper. The sheriff’s office must advertise the sale for 4 weeks prior to the first Tuesday of the month. The taxpayer must also be provided 10 days written notice of the sale.
On the first Tuesday of the month, if the taxes are not paid, the property will be cried out on the county courthouse steps. The opening bid is typically in the amount of tax due, plus penalties, interest, fifa cost, levy cost, administrative levy fee, certified mail cost, and advertising cost.
Reversing the Sale through Right to Redemption
When a piece of real property is sold at a tax sale, the owner may still save that property through Georgia’s right of redemption statutes. O.C.G.A. 40-4-40 through 40-4-48. Now the bad news. The amount that has to be paid is substantial. If you’d like to get the property back, you must pay the purchaser of the tax deed the amount paid for the property at the tax sale, plus a 20% premium of that amount for the first year or portion of year, and 10% each year or portion of year thereafter, which has elapsed since the date of sale, plus costs.
You have until the purchaser of your property forecloses on your right to redeem to save your property. The purchaser of the property must wait 12 months from the date of the sale to send out the notice of the foreclosure of the owner’s redemption rights and include a deadline for the owner to pay the amount owed and reclaim the property.