Defaulted Tax Sales

No Tax Sales are currently scheduled

We do not offer Tax Lien Certificates


Prior Tax Sales

Payment Terms & Auction Rules

Tax Sale Frequently Asked Questions


If you have further questions regarding tax sales, you can view the Frequently Asked Tax Sale Questions, or email the Treasurer-Tax Collectors Office.

Frequently Asked Tax Sale Questions

Question 1: Can I mail in or submit a sealed bid for property in the auctions?

Our auction is an internet sale only at Bidders must register in order to participate at

Question 2: Can I obtain a property available at the tax sale by paying the delinquent taxes on it prior to the tax auction sale date?

No. Legal title to tax-defaulted property subject to the tax collector’s power to sell can be obtained only by being the successful bidder at the tax sale.

Question 3: Do you sell tax lien certificates?

No, Santa Barbara County does not sell tax lien certificates.

Question 4: How do I find or see a property I’d like to bid on at the tax sale?

While we try to give all possible assistance in helping prospective purchasers pinpoint a property location, vacant land (which accounts for most of the property offered at our tax sale) has no address. Its approximate geographic location can be determined through the use of county assessor plat maps and perhaps a map book. Exact boundary lines of a property can be determined only by a survey of the property initiated at the purchaser’s expense. Improved properties frequently (but not always) bear a situs (street) address. We may post digital pictures to assist potential bidders in understanding the general topography of the area near the parcels being offered at auction, but the digital picture will not show the boundaries of the property being auctioned. Contact a surveyor prior to bidding, so that you may be certain of the exact boundaries of a parcel. Exercise caution in bidding, and fully investigate each parcel prior to bidding.

Question 5: How does a bidder pay for property offered at the tax sale?

Successful bidders will be notified by Bid4Assets and full payment will be required within a specified time after the auction. Payments must be in the form of certified funds (cashier’s check, postal money order, or wire payment).

Question 6: What are the conditions of payment for a property at the tax sale?

All sales require full payment, which includes the transfer tax and recording fee. The transfer tax and recording fee will be calculated after the bidding has closed, and are in addition to the amount bid.

Question 7: Do liens or encumbrances on a tax-defaulted property transfer to the new owner after purchase of the property at a tax sale?

Revenue and Taxation Code Section 3712 states: “The deed conveys title to the purchaser free of all encumbrances of any kind existing before the sale, except:

  • a) Any lien for installment of taxes and special assessments, which installments will become payable upon the secured roll after the time of sale.
  • b) The lien for taxes or assessments or other rights of any taxing agency which does not consent to the sale under this chapter.
  • c) Liens for special assessments levied upon the property conveyed which were, at the time of the sale under this chapter, not included in the amount necessary to redeem the tax-defaulted property and, where a taxing agency which collects its own taxes has consented to the sale under this chapter, not included in the amount required to redeem from sale to the taxing agency.
  • d) Easements constituting servitudes upon or burdens to the property; water rights, the record title to which is held separately from the title to the property; and restrictions of record.
  • e) Unaccepted, recorded, irrevocable offers of dedication of the property to the public or a public entity for a public purpose, and recorded options of any taxing agency to purchase the property or any interest therein for a public purpose.
  • f) Unpaid assessments under the Improvement Bond Act of 1915 {Division 10 (commencing with Section 8500) of the Streets and Highways Code} which are not satisfied as a result of the sale proceeds being applied pursuant to Chapter 1.3 (commencing with Section 4671) of Part 8.
  • g) Any federal Internal Revenue Service liens which, pursuant to provisions of federal law, are not discharged by the sale, even though the tax collector has provided proper notice to the Internal Revenue Service before that date.
  • h) Unpaid special taxes under the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 {Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 53311) of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the Government Code} that are not satisfied as a result of the sale proceeds being applied pursuant to Chapter 1.3 (commencing with Section 4671) of Part 8."

Question 8: When does the right to redeem a tax-defaulted parcel subject to the power to sell cease?

The right ceases at the close of business on the last business day prior to the sale.

Question 9: How can I determine what use I can make of a tax sale property before I purchase it?

Consult the zoning department of any city within which a property lies, or the zoning section of the County Department of Planning and Development for a parcel in an unincorporated area (not within a city boundary.) Examine the County Recorder’s records for any recorded easements on a property. You can also order a title search report (at your own expense) from a local title insurance company.

Question 10: How soon can I take possession of a property that I purchase at the tax sale?

You should consult an attorney. Generally, the successful bidder may take possession of a property after making payment in full and complying with any conditions set forth by the Tax Collector. It might be prudent to wait until after the Tax Collector prepares and executes the tax deed in the purchaser’s name. The deed is normally recorded within 10 working days after the Tax Collector receives the full sale amount and all required transfer fees.

Question 11: How is the minimum bid price determined on a property offered at a tax sale?

State law dictates that the minimum price for a tax-defaulted parcel offered at a public auction for the first time shall be no less than the total amount necessary to redeem a parcel, plus costs. The minimum bid may be set at a greater amount at the Tax Collector’s discretion.

Question 12: Is a tax sale publicly advertised?

Yes. State law dictates that notice of a tax sale must be published three times in successive seven-day intervals before the tax sale date, in a general-circulation newspaper published in the county.

Question 13: How will title in the deed to the purchaser be vested?

Title is vested in the name of the actual purchaser. If title is to be vested differently, we require a notarized letter from the individual for whom you are acting as an agent, stating the manner in which title is to be vested.

Question 14: What type of document is issued at the sale (treasurer's deed, tax deed, sheriff's deed, etc.)?

Tax Deed

Question 15: Can properties that do not sell at the auction be purchased directly from the county?

No, they cannot be bought from the county. They stay on the tax roll until the next tax sale or the delinquent taxes are redeemed.