Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tax certificate?
Okaloosa County Tax Certificate Sale
A tax certificate is a first lien against real estate (not the owner)
and becomes the basis upon which a tax deed application is filed. The
tax certificate sale is NOT a sale of real property, nor does a tax
certificate give the certificate holder a direct means to acquire a
property. According to Florida Statute 197.432 (13) The holder of a tax
certificate may not directly, through an agent, or otherwise initiate
contact with the owner of property upon which he or she holds a tax
certificate to encourage or demand payment until 2 years after April 1
of the year of issuance of the tax certificate.
It is your sole responsibility to research any tax lien certificates
you intend to buy. You can see additional property and tax information
for any item by clicking on the Account or Parcel Number on the auction
web site. Research
any advertised items carefully before submitting bids. There are
potential risks associated with tax certificate purchases. All
purchases in the tax certificate sale are final.
When does the tax certificate sale
The sale opens in early to mid May and starts to close on or before
In early to mid-May each year:
- Items for sale are advertised (in a local newspaper and on the
auction web site)
- Bidders can begin to register for the sale (submit W-9 forms, pay
deposits, get bidder numbers)
- Bidders can begin to submit bids
Starting on, or before, June 1:
- Bid submission ends
- Sale results are generated
For exact dates, please see the AUCTION SCHEDULE
. All activity related to
registration, bidding, and certificate awards takes place on the
auction web site.
How do I register for the sale?
All bidders who wish to participate in the sale must perform the
following steps on the auction web
Can I participate as a non-US bidder?
- Obtain a User ID and password for the web site by clicking the "Sign In" link at the top left of the page, then clicking the "Create A User" button and completing the required form
- Submit an IRS W-9 form
- Submit information necessary to process redemption payments by ACH
- Set a budget amount (the most you are willing to spend in the
- Pay a deposit of at least 10% of your anticipated purchases.
Deposits will only be accepted via ACH.
- Please note that you can only submit or modify your W-9, or make
a security deposit while a sale is open. You will be assigned a bidder
number after you successfully submit your W-9.
The Tax Collector will only accept bids from US persons who are
qualified to complete an IRS W-9 form and provide a valid US TIN.
How do I submit my bids?
You can submit your bids on the Bid page individually, as a group
(using a saved list), or via a file upload. You must complete all the
registration steps before you are allowed to submit bids.
How do I pay for certificate purchases?
Payment must be made by ACH using the Pay for Certificates button on
the My Account page. The button is activated once the last batch in the
sale closes and any final data updates are complete. The deadline to
pay is listed on the AUCTION SCHEDULE
. If you fail to pay by the
deadline, you may forfeit your security deposit and certificate
What is an ACH debit?
An ACH debit is an electronic payment from your checking or savings
account. When you enter your bank account information and submit
payment on the auction web site, you are authorizing the Tax Collector
to debit your account for the amount you indicated. All payments are
sent for processing immediately. Additional information is available on
the page where you authorize payment.
Funds must be drawn from a US financial institution. Some types of
money market, brokerage, and/or trust accounts cannot accept ACH
debits. Please check with your financial institution prior to
initiating payment on the web site.
THE TAX CERTIFICATE
What is the auction process?
Certificates are sold in the order advertised. Bidding begins at 18
percent (the maximum rate) and bids down in decrements of one quarter
of one percent. Each certificate is sold individually to the bidder
offering the lowest interest rate. In the case of a tie at the lowest
rate, the winner will be selected using a random number generator in
the auction software. Items that receive no bids are "struck" to the
county and become county-held certificates. Bids are accepted at 0.00%
(zero), but certificates awarded at this rate WILL NOT accrue interest.
Bids at 0.00% will not be treated as Proxy bids even in sales using
Is there a cost to participate?
Registration on the web site is free. You only need to make payment for
a refundable security deposit, and to pay the balance due for any
What is a batch?
A batch is a subgroup of the list of auction items. The list is divided
into batches to make the bidding process more efficient, and enable
participants to manage their bids and budgets.
Do I have to bid on all the items in a
NO. Each tax certificate in each batch is auctioned independently of
every other tax certificate.
What happens to my security deposit if
I don't win any certificates?
The Tax Collector will issue refunds approximately two weeks after the
close of the sale. Refunds of ACH payments will be made electronically
to the account you used to submit the deposit. Refunds of offline
payments will be made by ACH to the account you designated for
Will the Tax Collector send me a paper
certificate or list of certificates after the sale?
No, the Tax Collector does not issue paper certificates or lists of
purchases after the sale. To review and download a list of your winning
- Log in to the auction web site
- Enter the relevant tax certificate sale
- Click on the Results tab
- Select "All Certificates" from the Certificate Lists menu
- Select "All Batches" from the Batches menu
- Select your buyer number from the Bidder menu
- Select "Winning Bids" from the Results menu
- Check "Hide Removed Certificates"
After completing these steps you will see a list of your purchases. You
can download the list in Excel, or comma-separated values format (CSV),
by clicking the icons on the right-hand side of the page above the list
USING THE AUCTION SITE top
I forgot my password. What should I do?
Click Forgot your password on the home page. Answer a few questions and
the system will send you a temporary password via email.
I forgot my User ID. What should I do?
Click "Forgot your User ID?" on the Sign In page. Answer a few
questions and the system will send your User ID via email.
What is Proxy Bidding?
In a live auction, bidders lower their bids by quarter percent
decrements until they are the only bidder left or until the interest
goes below their acceptable minimum level, at which point they would
Proxy bidding is a form of competitive sale in which bidders enter the
minimum interest rate that they are willing to accept for each
certificate. The auction system acts as an electronic agent, submitting
bids on behalf of each bidder until their minimum bid rate is met.
Using the proxy system the electronic agent keeps lowering your bid by
quarter percent decrements until you are either the only bidder left,
(in which case you get the certificate at a quarter percent lower than
the previous bid) or until you reach the floor you have set. Note:
Does my budget amount limit the number
of bids I can submit?
- Zero percent bids (0%) will not be treated as proxy bids. They
will be awarded at zero.
- If you are the only bidder on a given certificate and your
minimum rate is greater than zero percent, the electronic agent will
submit a bid of 18 percent on your behalf.
- In the case of a tie at the winning bid rate, the system awards
the certificate to one of the tied bidders through a random selection
process using a random number generator.
- In no case will a bidder be awarded a certificate at a rate lower
than their specified minimum acceptable rate.
- Certificates that receive no bids after all batches are closed
will be struck to the County at 18 percent.
No. You can submit an unlimited number of bids regardless of your
budget amount. However, you will not be awarded an item if the award
would cause the value of your purchases to exceed your budget amount.
Is my budget amount automatically 10x
my deposit amount?
No. The maximum allowable budget you can set is 10x your deposit
amount, but you have to enter what you want your budget to be. You can
modify your budget any time before the end of the sale, as long as you
have at least 10% of that amount submitted as your deposit.
Where can I find sale results?
You can see results by logging in to the auction web site, entering the
auction, and clicking on the Results tab in the upper right-hand part
of the page. Clicking on the winning bid for any certificate will
display a list of all submitted bids in a new window.
What equipment or software do I need
to be able to participate?
In order to use the auction web site you need an Internet connection
Many people choose one of the following freely available browsers:
If I have a question about how to use
the web site, who do I contact?
Contact Grant Street Group by email at LienAuction@GrantStreet.com
or by phone at (800) 410-3445, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST on
TAX CERTIFICATES top
How do I receive redemption funds?
When a certificate has been redeemed, the certificate holder is
entitled to the face value plus whatever interest the certificate has
earned. Certificates are redeemed when the owner, title company or
mortgage company pays the outstanding taxes, or when the holder of a
certificate on the same parcel (from a different tax year) redeems it
as part of a tax deed application. Redemption proceeds are remitted to
certificate holders by the Tax Collector. The certificate holder is
never paid directly unless it is from a Bankruptcy Trustee. If that
happens, you must notify the Tax Collector when you are paid in full
and request that the certificate be cancelled.
Can I pay the taxes and own the
NO. You have not purchased property. A tax certificate purchase
does not convey any property rights or ownership to the certificate
Can an interest rate be changed after
The following may affect the interest rate:
Why would a certificate be canceled or
- No interest is earned on certificates issued and then redeemed in
the month of May.
- For all certificates, except those bid at 0% or issued and
redeemed in May, the minimum interest you will get at the time of
redemption will be 5%, even if the interest earned to date is less.
- If a certificate gets cancelled or reduced, the interest earned
will be 8% per year, simple interest, or the rate of interest bid at
the tax certificate sale, whichever is less, on the cancelled or
- Bankruptcy and other court rulings
A certificate could be canceled or reduced for various reasons such as
to correct errors, omissions, or double assessments, or when ordered by
Are tax certificates transferable?
Certificates can be transferred by completing an endorsement form and
paying the applicable fees through the Tax Collector's office.
When are county-held certificates
available for purchase?
County-held tax certificates, other than those with homestead real
estate under $250.00, may be purchased after the close of the tax sale.
The Okaloosa County Tax Collector uses LienExpress
to facilitate sales of county-held certificates.
What is the life of a tax certificate?
The statute of limitation on a tax certificate is seven years from the
date of issuance. If a tax deed has not been applied for and no other
administrative or legal proceeding exists, the tax certificate is null
TAX DEED APPLICATIONS
What is the Florida tax deed process?
The holder of a tax certificate at any time after 2 years have elapsed
since April 1 of the year of issuance of the tax certificate and before
the cancellation of the certificate, may file the certificate and an
application for a tax deed with the Tax Collector of the county where
the property described in the certificate is located.
A certificate holder who makes application for a tax deed shall pay
the Tax Collector at the time of application all amounts required for
redemption or purchase of all other outstanding tax certificates, plus
interest, any omitted taxes, plus interest, any delinquent taxes, plus
interest, and current taxes, if due, covering the property. In
addition, the certificate holder shall pay the costs of resale, if
applicable, and failure to pay such costs within 30 days after notice
from the clerk shall result in the clerks entering the land on a list
entitled lands available for taxes.
The Tax Collector will certify to the Clerk of the Circuit Court a
list of all persons required by law to be notified prior to the sale of
the property and a certification of monies involved in the application.
The tax deed applicant will then be notified of the additional funds
needed for advertising and other costs. After all necessary advertising
and noticing, the Clerk's office will schedule a tax deed sale date.
The tax deed applicant receives 18% per annum interest on the
application, beginning the month after application through the month of
redemption or tax deed sale date. If the property is purchased by a
person other than the certificate holder, the certificate holder will
be reimbursed all of the sums paid, including the above referenced 18%
interest. For complete rules please see Florida Statute 197.502.
Can I apply for a tax deed online?
Okaloosa County and other Florida tax collectors use DeedExpress for
online tax deed applications. For more information, go to the DeedExpress site
and select Okaloosa County from the menu on the home page.
Can a homestead property be sold by
Yes, but the opening bid on property assessed on the latest tax roll as
homestead property shall include, in addition to the amount of money
paid to the Tax Collector by the certificate holder at the time of
application, the amount required to redeem the applicants tax
certificate, and an amount equal to one-half of the assessed value of
the homestead property as listed on the current years tax roll.
Who conducts the tax deed sale?
The Clerk of the Circuit Court. The tax deed is issued to the highest
bidder. The opening bid must include all the costs paid by the tax deed
applicant plus all other costs for conducting the sale. The
title-holder of record has the right to redeem the property by paying
the Tax Collector all previously described costs at any time before
full payment for a tax deed is made to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Tax Collector, Okaloosa County