CGA Law News & Blog

“My House Was Sold at an Upset Tax Sale”: What To Do?

access_time Posted on: November 30th, 2023

You are a Pennsylvania property owner and you have just received a notice that your property was sold at an upset tax sale… now what?

You are now faced with the reality that you will be stripped of your interest in perhaps the most valuable asset you own – your real property – which was sold to the highest bidder at upset tax sale, likely for a price beneath its fair market value. While these circumstances are no doubt upsetting (upset tax sales are aptly-named) and hard to understand, Attorney John R. Wilson of CGA Law Firm has substantial experience with these situations and will skillfully advocate on your behalf to undo the sale of your property.

Property taxes (or real estate taxes) in Pennsylvania are among the highest in the nation, so it comes as no surprise that many property owners find it difficult and are unable to pay these taxes on time. In cases where an owner is two years delinquent in paying his or her property taxes, the Real Estate Tax Sale Law authorizes the relevant county tax claim bureau to subject this property to sale the following year for the purpose of satisfying the outstanding tax claim. The tax claim bureau will first attempt to sell this property at upset tax sale (in September of each calendar year), and if the upset tax sale is ineffective, then at judicial sale (in June of each calendar year).

As an owner of real property, you have a constitutionally-protected, due process right to be notified in advance by the county tax claim bureau that your property will be sold at upset tax sale. To that extent, the law in Pennsylvania requires that you be provided with advanced notice of the sale through a variety of means (such as publication, posting of the property, mailing, etc.) in order to prevent a deprivation of your due process right. The county tax claim bureau must strictly comply with these notice requirements; otherwise, the upset sale of your property is to be invalidated and then rescheduled. This will give you the opportunity to satisfy the outstanding tax claim and save your property from being sold at tax sale.

Under Pennsylvania law, there is a formal process for challenging the sufficiency of the notice provided to you and the validity of the upset sale of your property. This process is by filing objections and exceptions to the upset tax sale with the county court of common pleas. However, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to file these objections/exceptions – they must be filed within thirty (30) days of confirmation of the consolidated return (this is typically around the date of the upset sale). If you have recently received notice that your property was sold at tax sale but do not know if you were given proper notice, you should consult with an attorney immediately.

The attorneys at CGA Law Firm are prepared and well-suited to assist you if you find yourself in a similar situation as the one set forth above. CGA Law Firm has dozens of qualified and experienced professionals who are able to give you the information, guidance, and representation that you need at this time and can do so in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Contact us today at 717-848-4900 or at [email protected], or fill out our Contact Us form to schedule a consultation with our office today.

John R. Wilson


John R. Wilson provides legal services to Litigation, Bankruptcy, Government, and Education Law clients. Prior to joining CGA Law Firm, John served as an Advisor for the Mason Veterans and Service Members Legal Clinic, where he represented clients in military proceedings, veterans’ appeals, and civil matters. John focused his legal studies on national security law and policy, serving as a research assistant to the National Security Institute and the Articles Selection Editor of the National Security Law Journal.

Read John’s Bio Page in full here.