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Sale to Adjacent Land Owner (Private Sale)


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The Tax Forfeited Land section has an inventory of sliver/splinter parcels that the county auditor is authorized to sell at a private sale for adjacent land owners only, if certain requirements are met.

These properties are usually small, non-buildable lots of odd-shape or size, many times landlocked and typically the result of survey errors, title or ownership issues or development/plat issues. Often times an adjoining owner is unaware that a tax forfeited parcel is adjacent or near their property. 

The goal of the Tax Forfeited Land section is to offer these properties to the adjacent land owner and return them to private ownership.   

Requirements of a Private Sale

The following conditions must exist or be met in order to hold a private sale to an adjacent landowner. The county auditor must:

  • Determine that the parcel of tax forfeited land cannot be improved because it does not comply with local ordinances regarding minimum area, shape, frontage or access. This means that the owner would not be allowed to construct a building on the parcel.

    Example #1: The city ordinance requires a minimum frontage between the street and house before a house can be built on any lot. The parcel cannot meet the minimum frontage requirement. Therefore, only owners of the land adjacent to the parcel would be interested in adding it to their property.

    Example #2: A small parcel of land is land locked; there is no road to it or any way of getting a road to it. Therefore, only owners of land next to the parcel would be interested in adding it to their property.

  • Determine that the private sale of the above type of tax forfeited land will encourage the city or township to approve the sale and allow it to be returned to taxable status.


  • Determine that the highest and best use of the land can be achieved by adding it to an adjoining parcel.


  • Mail a written notice of the date, time and location of the private sale to all adjacent land owners at least 30 days before the date of the sale.  
Special Conditions of Sale

The sale of tax forfeited land to an adjacent landowner may be subject to special conditions:

  • The city or town in which the parcel is located may recommend to the county board conditions to be imposed on the sale.
  • The county board may impose conditions on the sale that:
    • Limit the use of the land,
    • Limit the amount of public money spent for the benefit of the land, and 
    • Safeguard against the sale and occupancy of the land unduly burdening the public treasury.
  • Adjacent Land Properties For Sale

    Each parcel not sold at a private sale may be purchased after the sale by any adjacent landowner who pays the basic sale price.  Any adjacent landowner interested in purchasing a property should contact the Tax Forfeited Land section for further information.

    Note: These parcels cannot be sold to anyone who is not an adjacent landowner.

    Additional Information

    The county auditor may conduct the private sale by accepting sealed bids from adjacent landowners only. A method of sale other than sealed bids may be chosen by the county auditor.

    All of the procedures, rules and conditions controlling a public sale of tax forfeited land for cash or by contract for deed also apply to a private sale to adjacent land owners, except that a published notice is not required for a private sale to adjacent owners.

    The basic sale price cannot be changed unless the parcel is reappraised, published, and offered for sale again to adjacent landowners

    A county official who owns an adjacent parcel of land can purchase a parcel of tax forfeited land offered for sale at a private sale for adjacent landowners only.

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