Have you ever thought about buying a piece of property from a tax foreclosure sale (auction) or maybe directly from a city? If you are thinking about it. The City of Poughkeepsie currently has 4 properties listed on their website as "City-Owned Lots For Sale." 

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What should you do before you even think about buying a city-owned property?

Do your due diligence. Check, check, check. What do you need to be able to bid on the property? What kind of property is it? It is just a vacant lot? Is it a condemned building?

What do you eventually want to do with the vacant land or building? What is it zoned for?

While in general, the listings will include the property maps and a few details about each listing. When I say few details, scarce to few could potentially be more accurate. Double check what the property is currently zoned for? Can you put a residential building, a mixed-use structure, is it commercial only? Will you be able to park cars on the property, if so, how many?

What are the taxes on the property? What taxes will I owe immediately?

This can be a Pandora's Box of a question. How much are the current use taxes on the property? Does it seem 'too much' for what the property is zoned for? Are you responsible as the new owner for any back taxes on the property? Will you need to pay those taxes as well as the 'transfer tax?' These are great questions to ask before you bid.

There is a structure on the property? Who is responsible to take it down or clear the property of any junk?

Hate to tell you this, but you will be responsible to clear, clean or repair the property. You might even be subject to say a 60 or 90-day time limit to get the property cleared. Keep that in mind, because that could cost a few thousand dollars, depending on what needs to be done.

What, if any, additional fees will you need to pay when you buy a city owned property?

Expect about 20 to 30% on average above the bidding price. You will probably need to pay auction fees, property transfer taxes, the fees associated with the new deed, and that is just the beginning.

While I don't want to discourage you, I just want you to know that it will involve some cash and some hard work. So, is it a good idea to purchase land or property this way? If you ask the questions that you need to in advance and have the answers that you can work with, yes. However, asking the questions will let you know if it's a good thing or if you need to walk away.

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