Auction Process


All bidders must be registered. There is no registration fee. Tax foreclosure sale registration will usually be available in the Treasurer's Office a week before the auction. You may also register the morning of the auction. Tax title sale registration will only be available the morning of the auction. When you register we'll provide a copy of the applicable terms and conditions of sale: Tax Foreclosure Sale T&C & Tax Title Sale T&C. We require that you read and sign the terms and conditions of sale before being issued a bidder number card. You cannot bid without a card. No changes to registration can be made after the sale. Check the Auctions page for sale dates and link to minimum bid lists.


  • We accept only cash, cashier checks and money orders made payable to the Whatcom County Treasurer. Absolutely no personal, business, or travelers checks will be accepted.
  • Those wishing to bid must be present or have a representative present at the auction.
  • The auctioneer announces the minimum bid for each parcel. Bids are made in increments of $100 dollars or more.
These are oral auctions. To bid, you must hold up your issued bidder card and call out the bid amount. Each parcel is sold to the highest bidder.


Once a parcel is sold, the successful bidder must immediately step forward and pay in full. No time is allowed for bidders to leave the sale to get funds and return, no matter how quickly they might accomplish that.

Along with the bid amount, deed fees, recording fees, and sometimes advertising fees, must be paid. We will announce these amounts in the opening statement at the beginning of the sale. The additional fees are estimated to be $150.

If full payment is not made as required, the parcel is re-auctioned at the minimum bid. A successful bidder who does not pay will not be allowed to bid on any other parcel at the auction.

Researching Properties

For more information regarding how to research a tax foreclosure, tax-title, or county surplus parcels, see Tax Auction Research.

How Long Does It Take To Receive a Deed?

A deed will be issued within sixty days of the sale. Deeds are forwarded to the Whatcom County Auditor's Office for recording. Then mailed to the address provided in the bidder registration. The type of deed issued varies.
  • A tax deed will be issued for parcels purchased at tax foreclosure sales.
  • A Treasurer's deed will be issued for parcels purchased at tax-title sales.
  • A warranty deed will be issued for parcels purchased at surplus property sales only when the County holds clear title to the parcel being sold. Otherwise, a Quit Claim deed will be issued for purchase of County owned surplus property.
Tax deeds, Treasurer's deeds, and quit claim deeds provide the purchaser no guarantees. There can be clouded title or other problems which the County is neither aware of nor responsible for to the purchaser.