There are other, little-known “fixed income” investments – attached to the real estate industry – available in the marketplace. These investments are “Liens” and are defined as a “legal claim against the property of another individual as security for payment of debt”.
States, counties, and other municipalities sell tax lien certificates to the public in "auctions" when property owners fail to pay property or other taxes or fines. Conventionally, auctions are held in person; however, Internet-based auctions (especially within large counties having many liens) have grown in popularity as this method allows for bidders from outside the area to participate.
The history of tax liens dates back to around 300 BC during the expansion of the Roman Empire. In order to stabilize revenues, private citizens were able to purchase the right to collect taxes on a particular region, guaranteeing a regular payment stream in return, and pocketing the difference.