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If you wish to purchase County Held Certificates, please click on the following – RealTaxLien. All questions pertaining to navigating this site must be directed to RealAuction. 

NOTE: RealAuction does not permit the purchase of county certificates at the link above both while preparing for the annual tax certificate sale (starting around April 10), and while the sale is in process and post-sale balancing is being completed (ending around July 1). 

Click here for a list of a few websites which may assist you in researching your potential investments.

Things to know when buying Tax Certificates/Liens in Highlands County

A tax certificate is an interest bearing lien against the property for the unpaid taxes and is not the purchase of the property.

Payment of the bill(s) through a record search on our website DOES NOT result in the purchase of the certificate(s). This only results in the payment of the taxes on behalf of the property owner.

PLEASE NOTE: It is the responsibility of the bidder or his agent to research properties prior to bidding. The Highlands County Tax Collector’s office makes no claim as to the merit of any investment.

Per Florida Statute 197 a Tax Certificate Sale is held annually on or before June 1st. Any eligible certificates not sold to private investors during the annual sale are struck/issued to the County at an annual interest of 18%. A tax certificate expires 7 years after the date of issuance of the tax certificate, which is the date of the first day of the tax certificate sale as advertised under Florida Statute 197.432. For more questions regarding requirements for participating in the annual online certificate sale, please access RealTaxLien

Private investors may purchase certificates owned by the County by accessing RealTaxLien. This site/portal is solely supported by our software provider, RealAuction, therefore questions regarding navigation or research must be addressed to them. Their contact information is provided on the site.  The Highlands County Property Appraiser’s site has a list of various Millage Codes that may assist you in your research.

Our software provider, RealAuction, will require users to place a deposit via ACH to serve as authorization for our office to debit accounts in the amount of auction winnings.  Also, this is the only means by which certificate holders will receive their redemption funds. It is the certificate holder’s/bidder’s/investor’s responsibility to maintain current banking records with RealAuction.

If you own a certificate, you may get paid in one of these scenarios:

  • The property owner or someone on their behalf pays the taxes to the tax collector’s office. We will deposit your redemption funds in the account you designated as described above.
  • Another private investor owns a certificate for another year on the account and they elect to apply for a tax deed application through RealTDA. Part of the cost of application is to redeem other outstanding certificates. When this is done, we will deposit your redemption funds in the account you designated.

It is not necessary that you own the certificate for every tax year on a given account. Each certificate is independent of the others.

What would be some reasons I would not receive all of my investment plus interest?

  • If the County applied for a tax deed on an eligible (see FS 197.502(3)) certificate owned by them, they are not required to pay to redeem certificates. In this scenario, the private certificate holders would receive their redemption funds if the property is sold at the public sale/tax deed sale.
  • If no one purchases the property at the public sale/tax deed sale, the property is placed on the Lands Available for Sale list for up to 3 years from the sale date. This list is available at During this time, no funds are disbursed to certificate holders unless the property is purchased during this time.
  • At the conclusion of 3 years from the sale date, if no one has purchased the property, it is Escheated/Deeded to the County per FS 197.502(8) free and clear of all liens. Therefore, certificate holders/investors will receive no funds whatsoever.
  • If the Property Appraiser submits a Certificate of Correction (which is subsequently approved by the Florida Department of Revenue) which changes the taxable value, the certificate may be cancelled or corrected at which time the certificate holders will receive interest at their bid rate or 8% whichever is less (Administrative Code 12D-13.057).
  • If you choose not to apply for a tax deed on your certificate before it reaches its expiration date of 7 years, the certificate holders/investors will receive no funds whatsoever.

How do I apply for a tax deed on my certificate?

Please review the Tax Deed Process page on this website.

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