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The next Scavenger Sale starts in February 2022

Published on Jan. 19, 2022 by Steven Vance

Updated on Feb. 9, 2022

The Cook County Scavenger Sale is an auction in which people can acquire properties that have at least three years of unpaid taxes; it begins on February 14. The scavenger sale is required by Illinois law to happen every two years. The 2021 sale, for properties with taxes delinquent in the 2018 property tax year and earlier, was skipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration is over. Start prospecting on our Portal. Look up one of the Scavenger Sale properties with Address Snapshot and get a free report using coupon code SCAVENGERSALE2.

To have a chance at bidding on and acquiring any of 31,209 properties in Cook County, potential buyers must register in person at the Treasurer’s office during normal business hours by Friday, February 4, in two weeks.

Of the 31,209 properties in the Scavenger Sale, a little under half are in the City of Chicago. Most of those are vacant lots in areas with high infill potential, meaning they’re supported by local infrastructure including ‘L’ stations, TOD-eligible bus corridors, and proposed public and private sector investments. Use Chicago Cityscape’s Scavenger Sale Portal to quickly locate these kinds of properties.

Chicago Cityscape will be launching a special and free Scavenger Sale Portal next week to find and prospect properties. Access a beta version.

The portal is funded by the Chicago Community Trust, which is supporting structural reforms to the process that must be adopted as legislative changes in Springfield and administrative changes locally.

Right now, though, Chicago Cityscape is pushing people to register with the Cook County Treasurer’s office to bid.

How does the Scavenger Sale work?

When a property owner does not pay their property taxes for three years or more, the opportunity to acquire the property from them is sold to the public via a scavenger sale that is required by Illinois law. The price is decided on via an auction, with a minimum bid of $250. The buyer does not have to pay the back taxes, but must pay future taxes even before they have a deed to the property.

After the redemption period expires — during which the current owner can pay back taxes and stop the sale — the buyer can apply to obtain the deed. Assuming the buyer followed all of the rules, Cook County gives the deed to the buyer.

The redemption period is six months for vacant lots and commercial properties (7+ units, mixed use, industrial, retail, office, etc.) and 30 months for residential properties (1–6 units, condos, townhouses).

Check if your property has unpaid property taxes; it’s still possible to pay the back taxes and remove a property from the sale before it starts.


The next Scavenger Sale starts in February 2022 was originally published in Chicago Cityscape’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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