The Cook County Scavenger Sale is an auction that sells properties with three or more years of delinquent taxes.
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"No Cash Bid" and "Sold": The bidder obtained a tax certificate, which gives them certain rights to acquire the property later.
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The Cook County Scavenger Sale ended on March 2, 2022.
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When a property owner does not pay their property taxes for three years or more (becoming "delinquent"), the right to acquire the property from them (in the form of a delinquent tax lien) 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 (or half of the delinquent taxes+interest if that total is less than $500). The winning buyer does not have to pay the delinquent (back) taxes, but will be responsible for unpaid taxes after the sale, before they have a deed to the property.
To be clear: Winning bidders acquire a delinquent tax lien, not a property.
After the redemption period expires – during which the current owner can pay back taxes to Cook County and stop the sale – the buyer can apply to convert the tax lien to a deed. Assuming the buyer followed all of the rules, Cook County assigns the deed to the buyer.
What kinds of properties are in the sale?
More than half (58%) are vacant lots.
The next biggest group are single-detached houses (15%), followed by residential side yards (5%), and two to six-flat houses (4%). Of the remaining 18% there are nearly 800 condos and then various commercial buildings.
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).
Find additional reading suggestions in "Official resources" below. Chicago Cityscape provides this portal for informational purposes and is not involved in the operation of the Scavenger Sale.
Chicago Cityscape is a platform to spark equitable development in Chicago & Cook County. We aggregate data and essential policy information to help real estate professionals access insights they can't get anywhere else.
Contact us about how to use the portal. We will not advise on how the Scavenger Sale works.
Chicago Cityscape's Scavenger Sale Portal is funded by the Chicago Community Trust to amplify the opportunity for local developers and real estate entrepreneurs to acquire properties in their own neighborhoods.
We are offering a limited number of sponsored Cityscape memberships to Scavenger Sale bidders to have all of our tools for prospecting properties.
Read the report that CCT commissioned to evaluate the process and outcomes of the Scavenger Sale.
These links direct you to specific resources on the Cook County Treasurer's office website.