(SAN ANTONIO) – December 3, 2014 – Jack Nelson, President and CEO of Propel Financial Services, Texas’ largest property tax lien financing company, stated today that he hopes lawmakers will heed a new report in support of the tax lien financing industry as a means for helping thousands of Texans avoid foreclosure and costly penalties due to delinquent property taxes. The report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation applauds the additional choice that tax lien transfers provide to homeowners and property owners when they need help settling overdue taxes. Tax lien transfers are voluntary arrangements with property tax lien financing companies that offer affordable and flexible payment plans for individuals who are delinquent on their property taxes.
“Property taxes in Texas have risen much faster than household income over the past 20 years, according to this report, and that – along with the lingering effects of the Great Recession – has made it very difficult for some of our fellow Texans to pay their property taxes on time,” said Nelson. “Our industry has provided a flexible and affordable option for settling those overdue tax bills, which has helped families across the state keep their homes and businesses.”
According to the report, Texas residents have seen local property tax levies jump by 205 percent – almost three-times faster than median household income – over the past 20 years. As a consequence, real estate taxes now represent a greater percentage of a property owner’s household income, which, in turn, has made property owners more sensitive to financial bumps, and has put a growing strain on their ability to pay their taxes.
Failure to pay property taxes on time, the Foundation adds, triggers a series of severe and progressive penalties – imposed by the county – that can add as much as 50 percent to a property owner’s tax obligation in just one year of delinquency.
“These egregious penalties often overwhelm property owners’ efforts to pull themselves onto firm financial footing, pushing them deeper into a financial hole, if not foreclosure,” Nelson said. “By offering them an additional option, a tax lien transfer addresses property owners’ need for more flexibility and more choices in how they settle their tax obligations.”
Citing data from the state’s Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, the tax lien industry’s regulator, the report notes that property owners chose the tax lien transfer option 14,526 times in 2012. These Texans “have looked at the costs, terms and risks of a tax lien transfer and have reasoned that it represents a less expensive and more flexible option than trudging through the delinquency process or other lines of credit,” the Foundation said.
The report also illustrates the rarity of foreclosures following a tax lien transfer. Property tax lien transfer companies oversaw 40,636 transfers in 2013 but only foreclosed on 103 properties, a foreclosure rate of just 0.25 percent. To put this number in context, Cameron County alone auctioned nearly that many properties in just one sale in March of 2014 to recover delinquent taxes, and there were 38,879 mortgage foreclosures in Texas in 2013, the TPPF report states.
The cost of a tax lien transfer is competitive with other financing options and is far lower than the cost of remaining delinquent, the Foundation reported. For example, the average interest rate for a residential property owner was 12.8 percent in 2013; and the average commercial property owner paid 11.86 percent interest during the same period.
Nelson noted that the banking industry has publicly stated its desire to eliminate or severely restrict Texans’ ability to use tax lien transfers, despite the fact that tax lien transfers are a viable and reasonably priced option for home owners.
“I hope the Legislature will not cave in to the powerful Big Banking lobby, including many banks that aren’t even from Texas,” said Nelson. They want to take away individual Texans’ choices. As we like to say here in Texas, that dog won’t hunt.”
ABOUT PROPEL FINANCIAL SERVICES
Propel Financial Services offers property tax payment plans in Texas and Nevada, creating affordable and flexible payment plans for people who are delinquent on their property taxes. With a property owner’s consent, Propel pays the property owner’s delinquent property taxes directly to the local taxing authority, which then transfers the tax lien to Propel. Additionally, Propel provides tax lien solutions nationwide by working closely with municipalities and government officials to find solutions to unpaid property taxes.
Headquartered in San Antonio, with offices in Dallas, McAllen, and Roseland, New Jersey, Propel is the largest tax lien transfer company in Texas and is home to 100 employees. The company has repeatedly been recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the San Antonio Express-News. For more information, please visit the company’s website at PropelFinancialServices.com. Propel Financial Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Encore Capital Group.