At the end of the foreclosure process, once all of the notices have been sent and published and the lawsuit has ended, a public auction is held to dispose of the property. This typically called a sheriff sale or trustee sale, and is the event during foreclosure where borrowers’ ownership interest is transferred to the buyer at auction. But sheriff sales do not always go smoothly, and homeowners may need to find out if their home was sold or not.
For instance, if the lender called off the scheduled sale for any reason, homeowners may believe that their property was sold out from under them when they are, in fact, still the owners. Banks cancel auctions for any number of reasons, from not having an inspection done, to waiting for an appraisal, to a response by a request for more time from the borrowers themselves.
Another factor that may cause a sheriff sale to be scheduled but not confirmed is if a third party bids on the home, wins the auction, but can not pay the purchase price. If this is the case, the property may have to be put up for auction again, in the hope of finding a more willing and able buyer. If this happens, though, homeowners may not even know the first auction did not count, as they assume the house was sold and paid for.
This is why, after a sheriff sale, it is important for homeowners to make sure that their home was actually sold and properly confirmed by the county. If the property was not sold, the borrowers may be able to keep living in their home until a valid auction is conducted. This may take an additional two or three months to schedule, conduct, and confirm, and all of this time can be used by the homeowners to save up more money.
There are a number of ways to find out if a property has been sold or if an auction has been confirmed. Possibly the easiest way is for homeowners to call the county recorder’s office or the clerk’s office and ask them to provide the information as to who currently owns the property, as well as any liens on the property right now. If the bank purchased it, there will most likely be no liens, but if a third party took out a loan to buy it, there may be a new mortgage affecting the deed.
This would be the easiest way to determine the status of the sheriff sale, since the county in which the property is located keeps all of the records affecting the property. If the foreclosure went through but there was a problem with the sale, they will be able to give the homeowners that information, while the court will be able to inform them if a new auction has been scheduled yet.
But if no documents have been recorded to show a transfer of ownership, then the house may have to be auctioned again at a later date. Especially if it is a few months after the scheduled auction and no documents to show a transfer of title have been filed, it may indicate that the sheriff sale was not valid. This may be due to any of the reasons listed above, but especially if the high bidder could not pay, the house may just be auctioned again.
In the meantime, the original owners might still have possession and legal ownership rights of the property, just as they had during the foreclosure process. According to many state foreclosure laws, it is the confirmation of the sale that finally transfer ownership to the high bidder at the auction — if that has not been done in a particular case, the borrowers may still own the property for now.
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