Nov 30, 2022
Frank Pietrzak (Peter-Zak) is a property tax foreclosure Auctioneer in New York State with over 20 years of experience. Frank and the professional team at NYSAuctions.com have returned over 40,000 properties to the tax-paying rolls and he mentions this could be a great option for 1st-time buyers who have access to funds.
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This is an automatic transcription (sorry for the typos in advance! 😅)
Laura Moreno: [00:00:00] First Time Home Buyer Nation, I am Laura Moreno and I am super excited to bring you our fantastic guest today, Frank Peter Sack. Frank is a property tax for foreclosure auctioneer in New York State with over 20 years of. Frank and the professional email@example.com have returned over 40,000 properties to the tax paying roles.
This could be a great option for first time home buyers as well, who have access to some funds in his free time. He loves to watch professional hockey and soccer and ride motorcycles. Frank, are
Frank Pietrzak: you ready to flow? I am ready to flow. Let's.
Laura Moreno: Great. So I've given our community just a little insight. Please share more about you personally and then expand upon your
Frank Pietrzak: business.
Sure. Thanks a lot. First of all, thank you for reaching out and having me here today. I really love speaking about real estate, especially auction, which I specialize in, and first time home buyers and auction. Uh, definitely we see them [00:01:00] and, and I'm happy to be able to be here and help educate them. Uh, my background briefly.
Public school teacher, high junior, high school teacher for over a dozen years. Um, I was looking for something to do in the summertime, so I used to go to auctions with my uncle, my dad. We went to antique auctions when I was a young, uh, young guy. And I just fell in love with that part of the business watching.
And then the opportunity presented itself for me to become an auctioneer. And, um, I went to auction school, started working for a company here in the mid Hudson. 22 years ago and, um, started selling real estate at auction. Um, only that method. I'd never done the traditional MLS style. Um, so I've, I've learned about auction right from the get go.
It's been exciting and a lot of fun at times, a lot of work. Uh, I do a lot of mileage on my car. I travel from every edge of, uh, New York [00:02:00] state, from Buffalo to pot stand to Plattsburgh, and almost down to New York City as we work in Westchester. So I put a lot of mileage on the car. The state is beautiful.
I encourage everybody just to drive around and go take a good look. Um, but this is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it and, um, I've been doing it full time now for quite a.
Laura Moreno: I have so many questions. I mean, you are the first person that we bring to the podcast that is in auctions, like in property auctions.
And I have to say, when I was looking to buy my first apartment here in New York, I was like, an auction. I'm going to get a deal, I'm going to get a good price. It's going to be like I wanted to get a deal in an auction. But, um, tell me more about auctions. I mean, how does it work and the first time home buyers that you've seen, how do they do?
Frank Pietrzak: Sure. Well, the first time home buyer needs to be educated, so they need to do homework and understand that everything you buy at auction is really [00:03:00] the buyer re uh, relying on their own information. So we're very different than the traditional real estate marketplace where you ask your agent a million questions and they go and find the answers for you.
At auction, we provide the publicly available information and then you go and do the rest of the homework and figure out whether or not you wanna make a purchase. So it's kind of 180 degrees different in that regard. The other thing that's very different is when you go to a traditional style broker, there's a price.
And that price is usually advertised at auction. We don't have a price. We let the buyers construct the price by bidding against one another. So we really never have a starting bid. Um, we work in 16 counties. I have one county that does have a starting bit, but the other counties all allowed the buyers to.
At the [00:04:00] price. So based on your homework, based on your evaluation of that asset, of that home, of that piece of land, the two family, the commercial, you decide what it's worth, and then you bid in a live format today, online, sometimes in person or both, and you determine what the price is.
Laura Moreno: What was the lowest price that you've seen?
I know I want to get into this, like what has been the lowest price? Has it been anything like a $1 property or or, It's always been like normal prices, .
Frank Pietrzak: Sure. Well, the $1 property, if that happens, um, and we don't go down to a dollar, but, um, if you have a very low value, let's say you find a piece of vacant land for a hundred dollars, there's typically a reason.
And a good explanation on hundred dollars land is it's a swamp. It's just wet property next to a neighbor, and the neighbor wants to as a buffer against anybody else. Or if it's an improvement, [00:05:00] um, typically a, you know, a thousand dollars house needs a tremendous amount of work. Half of it might be burned away.
The roof might be missing. Um, there are a variety of reasons and you would say, Well, gee, why would you ever buy something like that? Um, it's a lot easier to rebuild a home that already is existing and or has existed and had permission to be there in many cases than it is to start from scratch with vacant land and seek.
Sometimes that's very challenging, depending on the municipality and what you wanna build and what their zoning laws are in that area. So, um, sometimes the rehabilitation is, uh, the better route to go.
Laura Moreno: Got it. So, so you're saying if it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true, like there's a catch
Frank Pietrzak: Absolutely.
Condition is always, um, uh, reflected in the value. You know, we were a subcontractor for United States Government auctions on the [00:06:00] East coast. Yes, I sold the Jeeps that you could buy for $10, but those Jeeps were halfway around the. In the middle of the desert and they had no engines or tires. So for $10 you bought a Jeep, but you know, it's 8,000 miles from here.
There's always a reason behind the price. It's always an explanation. So how does
Laura Moreno: it work? So, so, I, I am curious about the profession. So you're an auctioneer, you go to Auctioner school, which actually make, made me juggle. I was like, Ooh, auctioner. Cool. That sounds really, really cool. So you work with the school, and then how do you get paid or how do you, how does it work for you?
Like you put a price of the properties, you go and see properties. Tell me more about the process of starting the career and the process of finding.
Frank Pietrzak: Sure. So, you know, in New York State, we don't have a licensed law to be an auctioneer. Everyone walking around can be an auctioneer. However, to sell [00:07:00] real estate at auction, you need to be licensed with a department of state as a licensed real estate agent or a broker.
Anyone that collects a commission or a fee in real estate needs to be licensed. So we're licensed in that regard. But the auction profession in New York State doesn't require a license. Now, um, if you work down in the five boroughs, you might need a special day license or a DCA license in New York City.
But for the most part, throughout New York State, there's no specific licensing. Um, I decided. Train as a professional auctioneer because I want them to understand a few different things. One, how did the business work in general? Uh, because it's a different business model than having a retail center where you have prices and, and the auction.
We'd all have prices, but I also needed to work on my voice and my inflection and my understand. You know, if you're just a very high speed [00:08:00] auctioneer and no one understands you, you're not a, you're not effective. Um, so much in the same way as a professional singer, you have to train to use your diaphragm to, you know, use your throat properly.
In practice, before auction school, I actually tour a muscle inside my throat and I couldn't speak for a couple of weeks because I wasn't breathing the right way. I was straining in my. So I had to learn and train as a singer in order to become an auctioneer. And today, after a lot of practice, I can auction for hours and hours at a time if need be.
It's tiring, but it's not exhausting. You kind of get into a trance of what you're doing and somehow your body magically allows you to do it. Just a lot of practice.
Laura Moreno: Could you practice it out here? Like can you give me.
Frank Pietrzak: something. Sure. Yeah, of course. Everybody loves to hear the auctioneer. Chance. Yeah. , uh, we use a, um, we [00:09:00] use what we call a country style auction where we ask a higher amount.
We ask them for a lesser amount and lesser until somebody raises their hand a bit. So, uh, I may start out who give be 500,000 for this home? Would he get 500? Would he get 200,000? Who do he give? 200 hundred. Thank you. Now a hundred, 1 25. 1 25, 1 50. One 50 bid. 75 1. Five and now 200,000. I'm at 200. Gonna get two and a quarter and a quarter and a half and a half and get two 50.
Two 50. I got 2 35. Thank you. Now 2 40, 2 40, now 2 45 and 50, but got two 50,000 and that's what we do. Oh
Laura Moreno: my God. That's amazing. . It's uh, it's definitely, How do you get to do it like so fast?
Frank Pietrzak: Just a lot of practice, hours and hours of practice. When I first returned home from auction school, I would just practice driving in the car, uh, imagining that I'm selling the telephone poles or the cars around me, and it was just a lot of practice and eventually you get there.
Laura Moreno: that's awesome. Okay. Going back [00:10:00] to first I'm home buyers. I hope you are all having a laugh and having a good time listening to this podcast because I am, I mean, Frank, you are so good. Um, so going back to first I'm home buyer. Let's go back to Yes. Being like focus on them. So you also say that those transactions are non-contingent.
I mean they Correct. You cannot add contingencies to that. Tell me what is that and how does that impact home?
Frank Pietrzak: Right, Right. So, you know, thinking back to when I bought my first home and I was young, had limited money, um, really unaware of the process, I really relied on the real estate agents and the attorney to kind of guide us through that whole process.
And, um, by the way, my wife wanted to back. Of that first home purchase we made in our twenties, um, like an hour before the closing because now the house was empty. You could see all the ugly, all the walls outlined in smoke where people had been smoking and she just didn't want the [00:11:00] house. And she said, You know, what's the worst thing that can happen to me?
You know, we lose our small down payment. I think we had a key deposit of $500 at auction. You're putting down a more substantial down payment, uh, typically 20% of whatever your purchase amount is. So if you're buying a home for a hundred thousand, you would need $20,000 as a down payment. So do
Laura Moreno: you give that at the auction?
Do you give, do we give it to you?
Frank Pietrzak: Right in a check or Yeah, at the auction. It typically has to happen right at the auction. So when we do these large volume municipal tax foreclosure auctions, um, and those are either done online or in a ballroom or sometimes simultaneously, uh, you would bring a bank check with you to the auction.
Payable to the municipality in an amount that you think you're going to need. Now, some people need a couple of [00:12:00] checks. You know, you don't wanna bring maybe all your money in one check, but maybe split it into two or three. Cashier's checks or bank checks? Nobody ever takes a personal check. Um, we don't take personal checks.
We don't take any lines of credit, any of those things that are stoppable instruments we can't accept. We need either cash, uh, green cash or cash equivalent, which would be a bank check, like a teller check. Um, and we have information and, and. Actually a little calculator on our website to let people figure out how much those dollar amounts should be.
But when you ask about no contingency, what that means is the purchase, the buyer is making an offer to buy without any additional, um, any conditional requirements on finishing the transac. So typically at auction, again, in these municipal tax foreclosure auctions, you have a closing period of 30 days you would [00:13:00] bid.
Today, you're the high bidder, put down your down payment sign, a purchased and sale contract. And then you have 30 days to finish paying and there's no excuse for not paying. There's no mortgage contingency, there's no chance for you to go and, um, you know, do more inspections. Any of those things.
Everything you need to do to learn about the property needs to be done in advance of bidding. Because on auction day, you're the contracted high bidder or the high buyer. The only thing left to do is for the municipality to approve or accept your bid. And what does that mean? It means. Means that first they're gonna go and take a look at all the buyers at the auction, and we could have 200 properties a day going through the auction.
They're gonna look at that list of buyers to make sure you don't owe that municipality [00:14:00] tax money. They're not gonna sell you more property if you are a delinquent property owner. But typically within a few days, um, they have a special meeting. They would look through the entire list. They approve all the sales.
It doesn't matter how much bidding is and um, you're ready to close in 30 days or less, and you get a quick claim deed to the property. And the important thing is if everything is done properly, you'll get it free and clear of any lie. You're not responsible for the prior taxes. You're not responsible for that former owner's mortgage or any other lanes against the property.
It's really a. A very strong process in New York State. It's part of the Real Property tax code. Um, and I, I don't need to get too detailed on it. I have different seminars and webinars on how to, how to do that research or how to understand that law, but the law is written for municipalities to be able to get properties [00:15:00] back on the tax roll, because right now they're, they're not being paid.
So for a first time home buyer, you know, why would you come to something like that? Well, first of all, it's not for everyone. Everyone will not come and, and be interested in this type of purchase, nor are they really able to do the purchase. Because of that liquidity requirement. You need to have your money ready to go, but if you are ready to go, the real value here is you're paying the price you wanna pay.
Right. You're not paying some other price that the seller wants. And number two, because the properties typically need work, they need either great cleaning or they need physical work or mechanical work. If you're willing and able to do work, that sweat equity that people talk about building into the property.
Then you're able to compete and buy properties. You know, let's face it, if you are what I call the retail buyer, the end user, the person [00:16:00] that's gonna live in that home, you can afford to pay a little bit more than the. Professional buyer who's looking to either flip the property with no work or pay to have work done and then flip the property or possibly rent it.
If you're able to do some of the work yourself, you're the ideal candidate because you can often outbid the flipper. The investor and you'll end up with a home that you'll create instanty and as you begin working in it. So it's really a, a great opportunity for first time home buyers. Um, but they just have to know where to go find these things and, and understand what the bidding process is.
Laura Moreno: That's great information. So going back to where, where can you find these properties? And I suppose my question is, is there a on database that is nationwide database or you have to go to each specific, um, state or county?
Frank Pietrzak: Sure. Well first of all, I would say you don't have to pay to find [00:17:00] out. There are plenty of people out there trying to sell you lists of information.
You don't need to pay for that. Um, in New York State, which is really what I'm dealing with, um, you know, in my daily work, every county. Or finance commissioner, they're the same people. It's just a different name. Every county treasurer is responsible for their annual property tax auction. So if you wanna know about Orange County, Duchess County, any of the 62 counties, you would just contact that treasurer's office.
You can call them to easy Google search to find out who they are, call the office and say, When do you have your property? And they'll say we either just had it, you know, right now, in November, we're not having that many more, as the weather gets colder and snow is ready to fly upstate. But typically May through October is when everyone around the state is [00:18:00] conducting their real property auctions, and they do 'em once a year.
So you'd have to get on their, either on their mailing list or they'll direct you to somebody like us, a service provider. Who conducts the auction for them? It's free information.
Laura Moreno: How do you, so you are a service provider, so how does it, So I suppose they get in touch with you and you prepare the auction, but how do you get paid, for example?
Frank Pietrzak: Sure. So auctioneers by and large work on a buyer's premium. That's the commission that the buyer pays on top of their bid. All right. Okay. So the, so just like going to an antique auction, you pay a hundred dollars for the item, you're gonna pay a buyer's premium on top of that, and that's a negotiable range.
There's no set fee. Um, you know, it could be as low as three or 4% if you're just bidding online, like on some, uh, auction platforms. It could be upwards of 18% or more if you use, [00:19:00] um, you know, if you're in a more metropolitan. Our auctions are advertised at 11% with a 1% discount for cash or bank check.
And what do I mean by that? We do accept credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, um, as a good credit card. And that would be at 11%. If you're using a bank check, you get a 1% discount, then you use 10%.
Laura Moreno: So then say for example, I'm at an auction in New York and I love this property, and I bid on the property, I win the property.
And then what I, what do I do next? I suppose I give you that 20%. Um, does that happen like right after you bid or it happens at the end of the.
Frank Pietrzak: Sure it happens immediately. Soon as you're the high bidder. We have you get outta your seat and go right to the cashiering and contract table, so, It's very important at these municipal tax [00:20:00] auctions, especially that they start collecting a good buyer's money immediately, right?
The reason why we're here is because someone didn't pay tax for two years or more, so they're very concerned that the buyer now is a real buyer. Willing and capable of closing. So you immediately get up head to the cashiering area and you're gonna make a down payment, and you'll also sign the purchase and sale contract.
And with our company, you're actually gonna sign all the closing documents because we do everything, uh, through automation. So, uh, the only thing left to do after you leave the auction is to get your final money. Wait for the announcement on the website that your bid is approved and send in your final money, and then you'll get a copy of the deed in the mail.
It's very, and when
Laura Moreno: do I pay your fees? That 10%, 11% at the, at that table .
Frank Pietrzak: So we mentioned [00:21:00] 20%. So half of that goes to the municipality. Half of that is our commission. That also goes to the municipality. They escrow all monies until. Closing. So the auction company doesn't actually go home with any money.
It all goes to the municipality. They hold it, and then once the transactions close, then they send us a check for our commission percentage.
Laura Moreno: Got it. So it's not on top of that, 12 per is not on top of that 20%. It's included in that 20%. Wow. This is fascinating. I mean, um, I, I feel like I want to do it, like if you are a first time home buyer, what you have to do.
Go and see some auctions, I suppose, and prepare your checks. Like would you go with a real estate agent or real estate agents or really get involved in, in this?
Frank Pietrzak: So, uh, both, both things work. So definitely you could go on your own. Um, it doesn't cost you anything to watch. I mean, you could always watch, you could watch the online broadcast.
There's no [00:22:00] charge, there's no signup fee. Anybody can just click in and watch. Um, if it's in person, obviously you go to the hotel or the ballroom and have a seat and watch. Again, no charge to do anything. Um, whether you need a realtor with you, that's up. Whether you want to, uh, bring a realtor to help you understand maybe pricing or maybe the zoning.
Could you build a house on that land? Is it big enough or not? So we see realtors bring buyers to the auction because they're providing value to that buyer. With knowledge and typically that realtor and that, uh, that buyer work out their own commission structure. There's no shared commission in the auction, so I've seen realtors get paid a fee to provide basic information and then maybe get an additional compensation if the buyer wins that property at.
And then occasionally, uh, you know, that [00:23:00] realtor also helps them go through the approval process to get the building site approved for building and that kind of thing. Um, there's a lot to learn and know in real estate as you've been educating first time home buyers, um, with your work that you do that they need to understand a lot about.
What it is they're either buying or they wanna do, and they should understand that before they put money into the process. You know, upstate, there are areas where you need five acres of land to build a house. Obviously five acres of land in Queens, um, or Brooklyn, or lower Westchester. You could build, you know, an apartment complex or maybe even a small.
So if you went upstate and bought three and a half acres and think you could build a house there, you might not be able to, might not be big enough land. So you would need information, you'd need help maybe understanding that and, um, a realtor can help you do that. Uh, uh,
Laura Moreno: that, that's great information. One quick, like, maybe a silly question is like, how do [00:24:00] properties land in.
So these properties, the 1 0 1, 1 0 1 question. .
Frank Pietrzak: Yeah, I mean there's a couple of different ways. Um, you know, we list property for individuals. You know, I could sell the house or the apartment, um, or the condominium maybe you're sitting in right now. We could sell that for you individually if you wanted to.
A lot of my work in the volume that we do, which is why we have hundreds and hundreds of properties every year at auction, is municipal tax fore. So that's where the biggest volume comes from. Um, you know, and there's just an awful lot of that property available again, once a year. And that
Laura Moreno: means that those owners are not paying taxes and then the municipality is taking those properties.
Frank Pietrzak: Is that what it is? Right. So I mentioned before the real property tax law in New York State. Um, it's a two year window of delinquency. If you don't pay your county real estate tax for two consecutive [00:25:00] years, um, then the county can foreclose. Take title and then the title must be sold at public auction.
That's how the law, um, addresses those properties. So it's a very niche business, niche part of the law. Now, can a county allow you to have longer period of time? Yes. Some counties like you become delinquent three or four years. Um, but my experience is the longer they let you become delinquent, the more.
Disrepair there is on those properties, especially the improved properties upstate where there's a tremendous amount of snow. Um, a small, you know, hole in a roof becomes gigantic after four years. So property tax foreclosure is a minimum two years. Um, I should say three years on agricultural, if it's an agricultural property, the minimum is three, but most of you are not gonna buy a farm.
So any single family home, vacant land, commercial property, the [00:26:00] minimum, uh, window is two years delinquent. And I wonder,
Laura Moreno: you know, because we hear all the time, like people not paying mortgages, you know, but, but you know, if you think about the cost of a mortgage against taxes, taxes is like much less than usually your mortgage usually.
So I, This is why I'm wondering like, how many of these properties are there where owners are not paying taxes? Because that seems like one of the lower expenses when owning a.
Frank Pietrzak: Sure, sure. Well, there's enough. I mean, um, you know, there's a repeat work in this because every year people stop paying tax for a variety of reason.
Um, sometimes, you know, the mortgage and the tax and everything is just overwhelming based on their financial situation. Um, if the bank is escrowing tax payment, Then the bank will pay the tax. If it's an older style [00:27:00] mortgage where you didn't have to escrow your taxes, you kind of pay that on your own. Um, you might be paying the mortgage, but maybe you're not paying the tax.
You know, you figure, well, I can kind of skate with the government, but the bank I have to pay, or vice versa. Every year we sell hundreds of homes that we see in the title. Have a mortgage, uh, but yet it's being tax foreclosed because either they're delinquent on the mortgage or they're delinquent on the tax, but the tax is superior, so the county will foreclose and sell that property.
Laura Moreno: And do you see the volume going up with the, with the current situation at the market?
Frank Pietrzak: You know, the pandemic has definitely provided a, um, a bump in the volume of property, but it hasn't been, um, double or triple. It's about a 20 to 30% bump in normal. So if we had a hundred properties every year in a given county, this year we have [00:28:00] 120 to 130.
Um, it, it's not like we have now 300 or 400, but the volume is. But also the marketplace of buyers is bigger. The competition is still everywhere. The relocation out of the lower part of New York state to upstate is still happening. Um, you know, I see by the registrations of people looking at property. I'm talking seriously upstate Canadian border, Plattsburgh area, Clinton County, uh, Malone, out near Buffalo.
Registrations are reading Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Westchester, Northern New Jersey. Um, I mean, it's definitely a lifestyle change because you don't have 24 7 pizza delivery, um, like you're used to. Um, but yet people are saying, you know, I, I wanna relocate. So they are, and therefore it's still competi. . Cool.
Laura Moreno: And the last question, Frank, [00:29:00] before I let you go, uh, although your interview is like so cool, , what have you seen are the top mistakes that people in auctions make and how can they avoid them?
Frank Pietrzak: Well, here's my school teacher days. Do your homework. I can't tell you how many buyers just go and bid and do no homework, and I'm talking not just first time buyers where you kind of may expect that, but I'm talking about professional real estate investors who we're just too busy.
Figured their partner looked and then they bought something that is, uh, not as usable as they thought it would be. Um, the good news is we could always resell it for them at auction once they take title, uh, but there's really no way to back out that down payment money that I talked about earlier. That's a financial commitment that you're at risk for if you fail to close.
And, um, the county will, uh, take your funds, they'll keep it, and you won't be able to buy any [00:30:00] additional property in that municipality. So if you raise your hand a bid, make sure you're serious about closing and taking title. If not, just sit and watch. It's a lot of fun to watch.
Laura Moreno: Wow, that's amazing. So if you don't end up buying it, you are not only, you're going to lose that 20%, but also they're going to ban you from those auctions.
Frank Pietrzak: Very typical. We don't have a banning list, but I know the counties, um, some of the counties sit and look through the list of registrants and say, uh, nope, not that person. They, last year they defaulted. So it's Wow. Yeah, it's serious business. I mean, it's an adult sport to buy real estate. Um, but at auction you really need to be an adult and, you know, be responsible for what you're, what you're.
Laura Moreno: What are most of the, Most of the users are professional investors, or not users, I mean, attendees.
Frank Pietrzak: Yeah, I, I would say the, the smaller groups are first time and professional. The biggest group is people from [00:31:00] that community that know those properties best, and many times they're a neighbor. Mm-hmm. . So a neighbor typically wants to add land to their own property.
Um, or they know of someone that wants to live in their community, like a relative, moving back to the area, that type of thing. So, you know, we see a lot of property going to people within that local municipal region. Um, so that's important. Um, and that's typically how it goes. So, uh, you know, the mix of assets.
Also, I should address this too, if we have a hundred properties, probably 30 or improve. Maybe 35. The other 65 to 70 properties are land. So they're primarily land skewed, um, in the offering. But, um, you know, there are plenty of choices of homes to, uh, to purchase. Well,
Laura Moreno: Frank, you've shared amazing information with us today.
What can we do? ,
Frank Pietrzak: I [00:32:00] appreciate you, uh, having me here. And, um, I offer myself for follow up if people wanna reach out to me. I mean, you're able to contact me if you wanna, uh, you know, either find me on our website, aa or auctions.com, or n y y s auctions.com. You could find me there. Um, I love to go on. I'm still posting photos at Auctioneer Frank.
Um, I don't do any sales pitch there. I may not be using it the right way, but I love to show you photos of what I see around the state and, uh, New York state's gorgeous. If you get outta your car and get off the highway and look around, it's really fantastic. So I think you would like at auctioneer, uh, Frank, either on, uh, Twitter or on Instagram.
Lots of great things to. And I appreciate being here with you, Laura. You have a great service for first time home buyers.
Laura Moreno: Well, Frank, thank you so, so, so much for being the first time Home Buyer podcast.
Frank Pietrzak: Thank you very much. You have a great day.