Wayne County property tax foreclosures: What you need to know


DETROIT – This year was a very different year for Wayne County property tax payers.

In years past, Treasurer Ray Wojtowitcz was willing and able to work out payment schedules rather than allow your home to fall into foreclosure any time.

Last year, Dearborn sued the county -- wanting to put an end to that practice in the "right of refusal" interval that comes when Wayne County local governments [and yes, even the state] get the opportunity to look over foreclosed parcels and snap them up by paying the county the back taxes.

These are viewed as development opportunities and eighty eight parcels across Wayne County received that treatment this year.

Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Redford, Flat Rock, Grosse Pointe Park, Lincoln Park, Romulus, River Rouge, Westland, Wyandotte, Wayne, Woodhaven all snapped up properties in this fashion this year.

The end result of the court battle was, this year, when anyone went to Greektown and tried to pay their back property taxes for the years 2010 and before was told NO! The county would not take their cash. But now that that month long window closed Wayne County resident can once again pay their back taxes. But there is a very short window of time to do so: two weeks. If you do not solve your back property tax issues by Aug. 15, your home or building will end up sold at the September Wayne County property tax auction.

Specifically, when it comes to taking care of your bill, you must do so on the fifth floor of the Treasurer's office in Greektown [400 Monroe in Detroit] and they must pay in cash.

[Yes, the building is crawling with sheriff's deputies with all that cash in hand!]

If you cannot pay your bill in full the Treasurer's office is asking you NOT to go to the fifth floor.

Instead you can head up to the eighth floor of 400 Monroe where a bank of half a dozen clerks with computer screens and seating for roughly five hundred people are there to help you make your installment plan. The Treasurer's office said they are doing this to streamline the process.

These lines are likely to get long, so unless you have the full amount of cash to pay you should go right to the eighth floor to save yourself and everyone else time.

The County Treasurer's office also says it sends multiple warnings or notices to property owners that they are delinquent on their property taxes and need to solve the problem by a date certain. But we spoke with any number of people leaving the clerk's office who said they did not know about their tax foreclosure and were fortunate to have found out.

It could not hurt for you to go online to the county treasurer's web site and pull up your property to see what your status is. It would be a horrible fate if you did not check and found out the hard way you have to move and will lose whatever equity you have in your home. This is especially important in the City of Detroit because the vast majority of tax foreclosed homes are in the city.

Yes, we are learning there are two different kinds of foreclosure: mortgage and tax.

Making certain you do not have a bill that's more than three years old is vital if you want to keep your property.

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