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This has got to be along the same lines as buying foreclosed property. It might work, but the passive investor is taking a big risk because she doesn't know the condition of the property. You have to figure it's poor, though, otherwise there would be no tax lien.

You say: These things seem to have to [have] a high rate of return to be safe.

But high rate of return and safety are mutually contradictory. Think of junk bonds. I think Mom wants to stay away from this one.
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