property taxes

I Owe Back Taxes on My Home and Have Medical Debt. Should I Sell My House?

Q: I Have a Property About to Be Put on Sale for Tax Delinquency in Florida. I Have Medical Debt Due to a Spinal Injury and Was Diagnosed Disabled by the Government Rehab Serv Admin. I am Going to School and Have no Job. My Debt is About $15,000. I Live off an Annuity Pension I set up for my Retirement Before My Injury. I am 56 Years Old. Should I Sell My Property?

A: If you can not afford the property, yes, you should consider selling it. And by “afford” it, I mean cover all the costs associated with owning the property – including any mortgage that may exist, insurance, and certainly the property taxes on the home.

You did not state whether this is your primary residence or whether this was a rental property/second home. You also did not indicate whether the home is owned free and clear. I suspect that may be the case, otherwise you would have likely mentioned that you could not afford a mortgage, which is almost always more expensive than property taxes.

If you are a landlord, it could be the case that tenants are effectively paying the mortgage on the property and that’s why you’ve been able to keep it this long, considering that you do not work. Lastly, you did not say how much the property might be worth.

All of these factors should weigh into your decision-making. If the home has substantial equity, and you can sell it, pay off your $15,000 in debt and find another affordable place to live (if necessary), then a sale is a good idea.

How to know if you should pay off your debt or start saving for the future

What I’d suggest at this point is that you get a local real estate agent to visit the property and give you a comprehensive market analysis. He or she will evaluate the home and tell you what “comps” – comparable homes in the neighborhood – are selling for.

This would give you a good idea of how much your property might fetch. Obviously, many parts of Florida are flooded with foreclosures and prices are way down. So if a quick sale is necessary, you’ll have to price the property very aggressively, in order to avoid the house being put on the auction block due to your tax delinquency.

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