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Welcome to the Johnston County, North Carolina Tax Administration Office.  Tax Administrator is Sheila Garner

FAQs - Tax Foreclosure

What does Johnston County do with delinquent tax bills?

When a tax bill becomes delinquent, the Tax Office tries various methods to notify the taxpayer and potential owners about the delinquent bill to see if the bill can be collected without the extreme remedy of foreclosure .  The final step in the collection procedure is a pre-foreclosure letter sent by the Tax Office to the last known address of the owner and/or taxpayer.  If these pre-foreclosure methods still fail, the Tax Office may assign parcels to a private attorney to commence foreclosure proceedings.

Can you pay someone’s delinquent taxes and become the owner of the property?

No, paying someone else’s taxes will not entitle you to any legal ownership of the property.

Do you have to be a certain number of years delinquent before the Foreclosure process begins?

No. Current year taxes maybe collected by foreclosure, however, the county attempts other means of collection.

What happens when owners of property that foreclosure had begun cannot be notified?

General Statue provides that a party “that cannot with due diligence be served by personal delivery, registered or certified mail, or by a designated delivery service may be served by publication.”   Service by publication consists of publishing a notice of service of process for three successive weeks in a newspaper qualified for legal advertising.  Publication is required to be made only in the county in which the action is pending.

What is the legal effect of a tax foreclosure filing?

There is no real defense to a property tax foreclosure complaint and lawsuit.  The main purpose of the foreclosure process is to notify all interested parties that any legal interest they may have in the property will be terminated and extinguished if a tax foreclosure sale of the property is completed.  This is because property tax liens are ahead of and superior to all other liens, except (in a limited extent) to filed income tax liens held by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.  When a superior lien is foreclosed, it cuts off all junior liens and ownership rights. 

Can the tax foreclosure sale be stopped or redeemed from sale?

State law provides that any owner, mortgage holder or defendant in a filed tax foreclosure proceeding can stop the foreclosure process at any time by redeeming the property.  The redemption price is equal to the taxes, interest, fees and costs of the foreclosure proceeding to the date of the redemption.  Parties wishing to redeem property from the tax foreclosure and stop the foreclosure process must contact the assigned attorney for a redemption payoff amount.  Redemption can even occur after a sale, as long as the sale has not been confirmed by the Court.  However, once the foreclosure property sale has been completed with a confirmation order and delivery of deed, all rights of redemption are terminated.

Bankruptcy proceedings filed by the property owner under federal law can also stop tax foreclosure, but all of the taxes, interest, fees and costs of the action to the date of the bankruptcy filing must be paid as a priority claim in the bankruptcy proceedings.

How do I acquire a list of properties and sale dates?

When the properties are ready for sale, dates and times are posted on the bulletin board in the old section of the Court House and in the Smithfield Herald for two (2) weeks prior to sale.  They will also be posted on our web site.

Where are sales conducted and what days are the sales held?

Foreclosure sales are held on the Courthouse steps facing Market Street, Smithfield, NC.  Sale dates are randomly selected by the foreclosure attorney and normally begin at 10:00am

If the property is occupied:  It will be the responsibility of the successful bidder for eviction by the appropriate legal action.  Eviction costs will be borne by the successful bidder.

Estimated Opening Bid:  The estimated opening bid is the approximate amount required to satisfy the tax lien and cost associated with the sale for that particular parcel number.  The commissioner conducting the sale will announce the actual opening bid at the time of the sale.  A deposit of 5% will be required on the final bid at the time of the auction.  The balance of the bid must be paid at the end of the ten day upset bid period and confirmation of the sale.  The owner of the property being foreclosed retains the right to pay off the foreclosure during the first ten day period.

Upset Bids:  A bid on the property is subject to an increased bid or upset bid for a period of ten days following the sale date or ten days from the last date of upset bid.  Anyone who upsets the bid must exceed the previous bid by 5% or $750.00, whichever is greater.  Increased bids are accepted at the Johnston County Clerk of Court’s office located in the Johnston County Courthouse.

What if the successful bidder at the public sale or at upset bid doesn’t bring in the purchase price?

Any bidder at either public sale or upset bid who doesn’t bring in the purchase price upon demand by the attorney will be subject to immediate loss of all deposits, as well as civil and/or contempt prosecution for failure to make the bid.  All bidders who bid at tax foreclosure sales, either public or upset bid, are required by law to be aware of the penalties for failure to honor their bid.

What kind of deed will I receive if I am the final bidder at tax sale? 

For foreclosure sales, a commissioner’s deed will be issued.  Unless otherwise stated in the Notice of Sale, all other liens with the exception of current year taxes, if applicable will be eliminated when the commissioner’s deed has been issued and recorded.