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 Public Auction Frequently Asked Questions 


When secured real property remains tax-defaulted for five years, it becomes subject to the Tax Collector's Power to Sell, and may be sold at Public Auction.  The purpose of offering tax-defaulted property at auction is to collect the unpaid taxes. San Joaquin holds "In-Person" Public Auctions.  The next Public Auction is planned for November 20, 2013 at the San Joaquin County Administration Building located at 44 N. San Joaquin St., Stockton CA 95202. 


 How often are public auctions held? 

The law requires that a sale be held at least once every four years.  San Joaquin County’s last auction was November 7, 2012. 


 Are tax sales publicly advertised? 

Yes.  State law dictates that notice of a tax sale must be published once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county. 


 How can I obtain a list of properties that will be offered for sale at public auction? 

The list of available properties can be obtained from the Tax Collector’s website at or by sending $5.00 to San Joaquin County Treasurer-Tax Collector, P.O. Box 2169, Stockton, CA 95201-2169.  For further information please call the County Tax Collector’s Office, Redemption Section at (209) 468-2133. 


 Can I obtain property available at the tax sale by paying the delinquent taxes prior to the tax sale date? 

No.  Legal title to a tax-defaulted property subject to the Tax Collector's Power to Sell can be obtained only by becoming the successful bidder at the Public Auction.  Paying the taxes prior to the Public Auction will redeem the property for the assessed owner. 


 When is the last day the property owner may redeem the tax-defaulted property to prevent its sale at Public Auction? 

The right to redeem tax-defaulted property subject to the Power to Sell ceases at the close of business on the last business day prior to the sale.  The right to redeem revives if the property does not sell at the Public Auction. 


 How do I find or see property on which I want to bid at the tax sale? 

Improved properties frequently will have a "situs" (street) address, making it easier to determine its general location.  Parcel maps obtainable through the County Assessor’s Office can determine the approximate location of any parcel. Parcel maps are also available on the Assessor’s website which is: 

Exact boundary lines of a property can be determined only by a survey of the property initiated at the prospective purchaser's expense. 


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

Buyer Beware!  It is your responsibility as a bidder to investigate any parcels that you wish to bid on.  No statements are made nor implied as to what you may use the parcel for if you are the successful bidder.  The Tax Collector does not guarantee access or use of any parcel.  Prospective purchasers should conduct an appropriate review to determine property use and value before bidding.  This review may include but is not limited to 1) consulting with the zoning department of the city or the zoning section of the County’s Community Development Department 2) examining the County Recorder’s records for any recorded easements on the property 3) viewing the property. 


 Who qualifies as a potential bidder at public auction? 

All bidders must be at least 18 years of age.  Bidders must register and receive their Bidder’s Packet and Registration Number prior to placing any bids.  A driver’s license or other type of government-issuedpicture identification must be presented when registering to bid.  If you will be acting as an agent, a notarized letter from the individual for whom you will be bidding stating the manner in which title is to be vested is required. 


 Can I mail in or submit a sealed bid for a property in the auction? 

No.  The Public Auction requires your presence, or that of your representative, to verbally bid upon the properties. 


 How is the minimum bid amount determined? 

When a property first becomes eligible for Public Auction the minimum bid cannot be less than the total amount to redeem the property plus costs associated with offering the parcel for sale.  If any property is not sold due to lack of interested bidders, the minimum bid for those particular properties may be reduced at a subsequent Public Auction. 

Current secured property taxes for 2013-2014 are not included in the minimum bid amount.


  How and when does the successful bidder pay for a property at the tax sale? 

No cash will be accepted at the Public Auction. Successful bidders must settle their purchase at the time of the sale or immediately after the auction. Payments must be made in the form of cashier’s check or money order.  Personal checks will be accepted only if accompanied with a letter of credit from your bank. The letter of credit needs to state that the funds are available the day of the Public Auction and at least 10 days after the Public Auction.  


Do liens or encumbrances on tax-defaulted property transfer to the new owner after the purchase of the property at public auction? 

Section 3712 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code states in relevant part: 

Title conveyed.  The deed conveys title to the purchaser free of all encumbrances of any kind existing before the sale, except: 

   (a) Any lien for installments of taxes and special assessments, that  installments will become payable upon the secured roll after the time of the sale. 

   (b) The lien for taxes or assessments or other rights of any taxing agency that does not consent to the sale under this chapter. 

   (c) Liens for special assessments levied upon the property conveyed that 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 that 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 of any kind, including prescriptive, 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) 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, or that are being collected through a foreclosure action pursuant to Part 14 (commencing with Section 8830) of Division 10 of the Streets and Highways Code. A sale pursuant to this chapter shall not nullify, eliminate, or reduce the amount of a foreclosure judgment pursuant to Part 14 (commencing with Section 8830) of Division 10 of the Streets and Highways Code. 

   (g) Any federal Internal Revenue Service liens that, 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, or that are being collected through a foreclosure action pursuant to Section 53356.1 of the Government Code. A sale pursuant to this chapter shall not nullify, eliminate, or reduce the amount of a foreclosure judgment pursuant to Section 53356.1 of the Government Code. 


  Are there any guarantees that accompany property acquired at public auction? 

No.  All parcels sold at public auction are sold "as is."  No warranty is expressed or implied in any manner regarding property sold at the Public Auction, including, but not limited to, the following example:  no claims are made to guarantee access to, or building permits for, any of the parcels involved in the sale.  Prior to bidding, it is the bidder’s responsibility to adequately research properties to know what is being purchased.  Lack of adequate research may result in the purchase of unusable property with no entitlement to a refund. All sales are final. 


 How will title to the property be vested? 

Title will be vested in the name of the actual purchaser present at the sale.  If you are acting as an agent and title is to be vested differently, a letter is required from the individual for whom you are acting as agent stating the manner in which title is to be vested.  A Notary according to California law must acknowledge the signature of the individual. 


 How soon can I take possession of a property after my purchase at the public auction? 

The successful bidder may take possession of a property immediately after making payment in full.  A tax deed will be issued to the purchaser within 60 days of the Public Auction.  However, the validity of the Tax Collector’s deed to the purchaser may be challenged within one year after the execution of the deed.  In addition, if the property purchased has an IRS lien on it, the Internal Revenue Service has the right to redeem the property from the purchaser, up to 120 days from the date of the sale. 


If you have any questions or comments regarding the brochure please call San Joaquin County Treasurer-Tax Collector Redemption Section at (209) 468-2133. 




Updated November 18, 2013  

Office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector

44 North San Joaquin Street
First Floor Suite 150
Stockton, CA 95202
Phone: (209) 468-2133
Fax: (209) 468-2158

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 2169
Stockton, CA 95201-2169