When property taxes become delinquent, an involuntary tax lien is placed on the property by the taxing authorities to recover the amount owed. If the delinquent taxes are not paid within a predetermined time frame, the property is then sold at public auction. A minimum opening bid is required that covers the delinquent property tax amount, legal costs, interest, penalties, and miscellaneous fees.
The highest bidder at the auction receives a tax sale certificate when he pays the bid amount. The delinquent property owner can regain title to the property if they pay back the lien amount plus interest and miscellaneous expenses before a redemption period set by law expires. The redemption period can vary from several months to several years in some states.
If there is a mortgage lien on a property, lenders will usually pay the taxes and add the amount to the property owner's mortgage to avoid foreclosure and protect their investment. Many properties don't make it to the foreclosure process for this reason.
You should be thoroughly aware of the risks and potential headaches involved with tax foreclosures and clearly understand what the delinquent parties legal rights are, specifically their redemption rights.
I would highly recommend contacting a local Realtor and finding out what options are available in your area....there are first time home buyer programs out there....good luck!