Tax Foreclosure Programs: The Scoop on The Secret Certificate

Published: 30th June 2009
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It seems that now they're popping up all over the web - websites that claim that you can purchase tax delinquent houses for only a few hundred dollars. Here's one that I stumbled across recently, the website is TheSecretCertificate. This site, very much like the John Beck infomercial, claims that you can "Steal" a house ... for just $600 with no mortgage payments. This site shows pictures of houses that were purchased for under $400 and has links to documentation to prove it. The links show the actual treasurer's deed to the property.

If you check out the links to these deeds you'll notice that all three of the properties shown are in Oklahoma and that these deeds were issued between 2001 and 2003 for tax lien certificates that were issued in 2001. The assessed value of each of these homes is between 30,000 to 50,000. So this seems like a real good deal.

You can sign up for their 7-day trial program and free video at TheSecretCertificate for a $1.00 donation to charity. And if you do not cancel in 7 days, your credit card will be billed for $97.00 per month thereafter, until you cancel. Now here's what you're supposed to get for $97.00 per month: A national list of tax delinquent properties - houses that you can supposedly purchase for pennies on the dollar right now; Contact information for the best states to invest in, and personal mentoring with Ben Bergin.

I tried the 7-day trial and here's what I found. The trial gives you access to a member site that gives you access to a video lesson each day for 7 days and access to the bonuses mentioned above. I was only able to listen to the first 2 lessons because you are only allowed access to one lesson each day. I wanted to listen to all 7 lessons on my second day in the program because with my schedule, that's when I had the time to watch the lessons. The site would only allow me to watch the first 2. I found them to be introductory lessons that went into length on what tax liens are and why they're such a good investment, but there was nothing in these first 2 lessons about how actually to invest in tax liens or how you actually get a house for $600 or less. I cannot comment about lessons 3-7, perhaps all of the good information was in there. If you want to find out you can donate $1.00 to charity (it's a worthwhile cause) and see for yourself.

I also checked out what was supposed to be a national list of tax delinquent properties. Here's what I found. When I checked the list for the county that I live in, Monroe County, PA, it turned up 7 properties. Now I know there are hundreds of delinquent tax properties in my county. There are a few hundred on the list for judicial tax sale that coming up in a few weeks as well as hundreds more that are not even scheduled for tax sale yet. I was only able to check out 4 of the properties listed because 3 of them only listed a P.O. address and without an owners name or other property qualifier, there was no way to identify the property. Of the 4 that I was able to check, only one was actually delinquent and the delinquent amount was different that the amount that was listed on the web site.

Then I tried looking at the delinquent list for San Francisco County California. The tax sale had just taken place within a day or so of me getting this information from the site, so you would think that the properties that were in the tax sale would be on this list. That's not what I found. This time there was a substantial amount of properties on the list. But I didn't recognize any of them as properties that were in the tax sale. In my estimation this is an old and outdated delinquent tax sale list that is no help to the investor.

Next I looked at the contact list for what were supposed to be the best states to invest in. Here's what I found: Only tax deed states were listed, but some deed states were not mentioned at all, there was false information about redemption periods for many of the states, including the state that I live in. Hawaii and California were both among the 5 states that are best to invest in. I don't know why, since California is a very competitive deed state and even though Hawaii is a redeemable deed state the interest is only 12% per annum for deeds that redeem.

I made sure that I cancelled my membership before I was billed the monthly charge of $97.00, so I can't comment on the personal mentoring that was supposed to come with membership. I did find that they were very accommodating and did cancel my membership without billing me. So if you want to donate $1.00 to charity and check it out for yourself, go ahead. It does seem to be a legitimate business. And I'm sure that they have good information for some states, they just didn't have good information for the state that I live and invest in.

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