Instructions and Procedures for Upset Sale

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The information provided below is of a general nature, and it is intended to give prospective purchasers of tax delinquent properties some understanding of how the purchase process for upset sales works, and what a purchaser may expect to occur if a property is purchased. This information is not be be construed as an exhaustive treatment of all intricacies of the tax sale law, nor should it be taken as an answer to any question which a prospective purchaser may have. Hopefully, those who read this information will have a better idea of how the purchase process works; however, it is strongly recommended that if the reader should have any questions not sufficiently answered by the information provided, he or she should consult an attorney.

Tax delinquent properties are advertised for sale in newspapers, and the sale is conducted by the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau (“the Bureau”) pursuant to the Real Estate Tax Sale Law and any conditions of sale set by the Bureau.

For the upset sale, the minimum bid must be enough to cover all unpaid taxes, costs and municipal liens and claims. If you buy a property in the upset sale, mortgages and liens on the property remain in effect, even though you have paid all taxes that were due.

There are a few situations that prospective purchasers should be aware of:

The fact that a property is advertised for sale in the newspaper does not mean that the property will be exposed for sale on the day of sale. Many delinquent owners pay their back taxes before the sale date, at which point their properties are taken off the sale list. In addition, delinquent owners sometimes secure court orders to stay the sale. Those properties are also removed from the sale list. The sale of these properties may be continued to a later date.

Even if a property is purchased at the sale, the delinquent owner still has the right to go to court to contest the sale of his or her property. Frequently, delinquent owners claim that they failed to receive proper notice of the sale. If the court finds this is true, the sale is set aside, and the purchaser gets his/her money back.

Prospective purchasers at tax sales should be aware that they could consult with an attorney prior to the sale to get more detailed information concerning what they may expect in purchasing properties. Of key importance is to learn the rights of tax delinquents to challenge the sales in court.


If you are interested in bidding on a property at the upset sale, please do the following:

  1. Obtain a list of properties scheduled for the upset sale published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chester Spirit, and The Delaware County Legal Journal. Registration information, including dates of registration, is also published along with the list. The lists are published at least 30 days before the sale. The Bureau also maintains a desk copy of the list that will be available to view.
  2. For the Continued Upset Sale, a desk copy of properties is generally available 30 days before the continued sale date.
  3. The upset sale usually occurs in early September and the continued upset sale in early December. The exact time and date of sale will be published on the County website, or you can telephone the bureau at (610) 891-4284 to get this information.
  4. Registration will generally take place two weeks prior to the scheduled sale dates. The exact time and date of registration will be published on the County website, or you can telephone the bureau at (610) 891-4284 to get this information.
  5. You MUST print out, complete and notarize the Bidder Application and Bidder Affidavit (link below) PRIOR TO registration. If these forms are not complete at the time of registration, you will not be permitted to register.
  6. The registration fee is $1,000.00 and must be paid with a certified check or money order. In order to register to bid, you may not have delinquent taxes in Delaware County. Current photo ID required at time of registration.
  7. Know the address and folio number of all properties in which you have an interest.
  8. The bidding begins when each property is called and identified by the auctioneer on the date of sale.
  9. If you are successful in your bid, employees of the Bureau will assist you in following through with the purchase process. Payment in full is due by noon the day after the sale for all sales. You must finalize on all sales or you do not get to finalize on any. Failure to finalize on a sale will result in forfeiting your $1,000.00 registration fee and being debarred from future sales for five years.
  10. You are free to bid on more than one property if you so desire.
  11. Print out a sample copy of the conditions of sale (link below) for the upset sale to give you more information about upset sales. Please be aware that these conditions of sale are subject to change at any time by the Tax Claim Bureau.

Bidder Application

Bidder Affidavit

Conditions of Sale

Contact Us

  •   201 West Front Street,
         Media, PA 19063
  •   8:30AM - 4:30PM
           Monday - Friday
  •   610-891-4000

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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