Frequent Asked Questions about Foreclosure Sales

Michael Taliercio
Michael Taliercio

More than ever, people are buying property through foreclosures.  Do you want to buy property at a foreclosure sale, but you have questions about the process?  If so, then this article is for you.  For a general explanation of the foreclosure sale process, take a look at this previous article

However, some common but more specific questions that people have about the foreclosure sale process are:

Where does the sale take place?  Well, by law the notice of sale must contain the location where the sale is going to be conducted. Most sales are noticed to be conducted on the courthouse steps or at the usual place of sale in the county courthouse.  If you do not know where sales are conducted in your county courthouse, the court staff in the special proceedings division can show you the usual location that foreclosure sales are going to be conducted.  Someone will physically be present at that location to do the foreclosure sale at the appropriate time.

How can I find out about the time of sale?  The sale time is listed on the notice of foreclosure sale.  That document is in the foreclosure files in the special proceedings division of the clerk of court’s office at the county where the property is located.  In addition, most counties have some sort of board or wall where notices of foreclosure sale are posted.  And, the notice of foreclosure sale must be published in an appropriate newspaper in the county before the sale, so you can also look at the legal advertising section of your local newspaper.

Why is the foreclosure sale not happening at the the time listed on the notice?  While the person holding the foreclosure sale (typically a commissioner or trustee) will attempt to conduct the sale as close to the time listed on the notice of sale, the person doing the sale is permitted to conduct the sale up to an hour after the noticed time.  So you may just need to wait for up to an hour for the sale to begin.  However, it’s also possible that the sale may be getting postponed or even cancelled.  If the sale is being postponed, then the foreclosure trustee or commissioner (or their agent) will read a postponement at the place of sale as well as file that document in the court file for the foreclosure.  But again, that could happen within an hour of the time listed on the foreclosure sale notice.  And if the sale is cancelled, then you will likely need to review the foreclosure court file to see if the sale has been cancelled or if the foreclosure has been dismissed altogether.

Why is the opening bid in this foreclosure so cheap?  It’s possible that very little is owed on the mortgage or deed of trust, so that’s why the opening bid in the foreclosure is so low.  In addition, it’s also very possible that the mortgage or lien being foreclosed is not the first or only lien on the property.  If that is the case, then the bidding may be starting so low because it’s a third mortgage being foreclosed.  If there are multiple mortgages on the property, then there could be no equity in the property after the mortgages.  Typically, a title search is required to determine the existence of any mortgages and might explain why a bid may be so low on a property being foreclosed.

If I have questions about the property being sold, can the person doing the sale help me?  No, probably not.  First, the person at the courthouse conducting the sale may just be hired to do only that, and may know almost nothing about the property in question that is being sold.  In addition, the trustee or commissioner doing the sale probably will not provide advice regarding the property to bidders, as it would likely be a conflict for them to both conduct the foreclosure sale AND provide advice to bidders in that foreclosure sale.  So typically, you will need to hire your own real estate attorney to do a title search on the property.  And you probably want to get answers to questions regarding the property before bidding, as you may not want to bid on a property with serious problems.

If you have questions about foreclosures, one of the North Carolina or South Carolina attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas may be able to assist.