There is an online auction company that regularly holds online tax lien sales.
If you have never done it before, then it's not as easy as it sounds. The things you need to know are enough for a 2-day class-- such as doing homework before you bid, going to the county court house to research on the properties you plan to bid on (often just to find out the day before the auction the homeowner has paid up on tax and the property is now taken off the list! After all that
research work!), and then you have to go through the legal process (such as quit claim) to fix the deed (lawyer's fees!)..There is no recourse if you find something wrong with the property later, and there is a redemption period for the homeowner to pay up and take the property back! I was once interested in bidding, but not any more, and have resigned this to the pro's in this area.
I have been an investor myself for 17 years, covering the whole Bay Area from Alameda County to Sonoma County. There are a lot more criteria in shopping for investment than for your own home, due to the business aspect, financing aspect and landlordding aspect. I am a RE sales agent with all that investors' experience and I cover the whole Bay Area.
Fran Lai, Century 21 Mission-Bishop