What are my rights to buy the family homestead in a tax sale?

My grandmother passed 2 years ago and left the house to my mother and 2 uncles. Then, last year, 1 uncle who was living there passed away. My other uncle is dirt poor and wants to sell the house but has not paid the taxes my mother has MS and cannot deal with any of it. I have 3 kids and 1, my son, has autism. My wife and I would love the house, long in my family, but my uncle will not let me move in or buy it. It is scheduled to go into state forfeiture in just over 6 months for non-payment of state taxes. Will I, as a family member, have a chance to buy it before the public if it goes to state forfeiture auction? If I paid the taxes, is there any legal way I can get the house? It has been in my family sinse the early 1900’s.

Asked on September 25, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1 No, they can't give you a preferred opportunity or position to purchase the house the auction is equally open to everyone. You can buy the home if you put in the winning bid.
2 No, paying the taxes while your uncle owns the home does not give you any right to the home--instead, you've just gifted your uncle the taxes. He could agree to sell it to you for a good price if you'll take over the tax liability, and that sale agreement could include leasing it back to him or even giving him a life estate the right to live there for the balance of his life if that is something he is open to, speak with a real estate attorney about structuring the transaction.

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