Both good answers. I would just ad most consumers do not and/or can not take advantage of "court house steps" or tax lien auctions for many reasons. Here are a few:
1) You can not get a mortgage loan. Properties must be paid for at the auction with cashierâ€™s checks, money orders or certified check.
2) Most of the time you can not even see the inside of the property before you buy it.
3) No disclosures - Remember expression "Buyer beware" (an expression of an ancient legal doctrine that states it is the responsibility of a buyer to thoroughly check out the item being purchased before completing the transaction. According to that ancient doctrine, once the transaction is over, it is too late to complain). Well it fully applies when purchasing at these kinds of Auctions.
4) No escrow - meaning no title search or title insurance. You must do your own title search or pay someone to do it for you.
5) Properties can be redeemed as few as 3 days before the auction. Which means you do your research and the property is pulled at the last minute.
So, if you are still interested get some books, do your research, go to some auction sales and see what to expect. Most investment savvy realtors can help you find out when and where.