what i got from the article is this: due to the financial situation of the owner, a small unpaid tax turns due to unfair practizes into a larger debt of like $5000, which then allowed a judge to enforce the sale of the house so that unpaid taxes could be paid off.
now if the house was sold for the mentioned 197'000, does that mean that the owner at least got the proceeds minus the debt? the title suggests that this would not be the case...
1) Owner of the house owes a minor amount of taxes. In most of the anecdotes, the homeowners have either no mortgage at all, or otherwise have mostly equity (tiny % of the total value of the home owed).
2) Since the city technically has a lien on the home (or gets one?), they are able to then sell the lien to an "investor", who pays whatever the tax bill is.
3) The investor demands payment, and begins charging huge fees.
4) After 6 months or whatever, the investor forecloses on the house, which is essentially taking ownership (basically a "repossession")
5) The investor sells the house for market value, or whatever price they want.
6) Since the investor is NOT a mortgage company or otherwise holding a mortgage lien, but is holding a lien originated by municipal entity, there is no rule in place that says they need to pay the original homeowner the profit. Therefore, they keep all of the money, minus the tax bill they paid at the start.
In the end, the article implies that this company is buying liens for as low as $50, and then selling the houses out from under the homeowners for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At least, that's what I understood.