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Hudson Brown
Hudson Brown

How To Buy Real Estate At Auction

Homes sold at auction are typically in pre-foreclosure, foreclosure, or have some type of lien on them because the owner fell behind on their home loan with their mortgage lender. As a result, the properties are often in distress.

how to buy real estate at auction

But there are other ways that homes are sold, and auctions are one of them. There are two main ways that a house ends up at auction: through foreclosure due to missed payments or defaulting on tax payments.

Foreclosed properties are sold at auction. These homes are seized by a mortgage lender after a borrower fails to make mortgage payments for a set period of time. This process begins after several months of missed payments. Before a servicer can proceed with the foreclosure process, the loan must be at least 120 days delinquent, with some exceptions. Servicers are required to make efforts to contact the borrower with alternatives to foreclosure to help them stay in their house if possible.

Absolute auctions attract the most bidders because there is no minimum. This is also the preferred method of most lenders and government agencies. All sales are final, meaning there is no room for the seller to back out in the face of a too-low bid.

In an open auction, bidders know the amount of any other bids that have been made. Bidders like open bids, because they can see what the competition is doing and raise their bid gradually, as needed. If there is no competition, a lowball bid might just win. On the other hand, open bidding can result in bidding wars, and sometimes sellers reap a windfall.

Why? Because in the auction process, the lender is looking to cut their losses by recouping the balance due on the mortgage and their costs to foreclose. The same is true for municipalities with a tax lien in place. Their interest is in coming as close as possible to having the tax bill paid and their costs recouped.

In the vast majority of real estate transactions, home buyers are legally offered consumer protections, lenders are required to make disclosures, and real estate agents must advise you as they would advise themselves. In the auction situation, none of that applies. In addition to having little or no access to the home you wish to buy before you bid, you are responsible for doing your due diligence to make sure the title is held free and clear.

Even if you win at auction, you can still lose the house. If the owner is suddenly able to bring their mortgage current, work out a forbearance plan with the lender, or negotiate a short sale, you will walk away empty handed. Until you receive the title with your name on it, which usually takes about 10 days after the auction ends, you have no guarantees.

These are loans that are high interest and short term, and generally unsuitable for auction bidders who plan to live in the home. These loans make sense for property flippers, whose business it is to fix up and sell their auction buys as quickly as possible, paying off the loan, and pocketing their profits.

In a delayed financing loan, you pay for your home upfront, as in the case of an auction purchase, and then immediately refinance the home to take the equity back out, presumably to buy more houses. It could also work if you borrowed money from friends or family to make the initial purchase of an auction property and need to repay those loans.

Figure out what you must pay for an auction property to make it worth your while, either as a homeowner or an investor. It can be difficult to stick to, especially in the case of a bidding war, when emotions run high. But if you know exactly when to walk away, you will avoid overpaying for an auction property.

All risks are on the buyer in the auction situation, so there is no one to look to for financial assistance should the problems in a home, or in its legal status, be greater than you thought they might be. Even the best-kept home can harbor serious problems within its walls.

An absolute auction is a standard real estate auction, where each bid must be higher than the last bid, and the auction ends when no participant bids higher than the most recent bid. The highest bidder is the one who acquires the property.

Lastly, a reserve auction is a combination of absolute and minimum bid, with a reserve price (minimum bid) set. If none of the bids meet that minimum, the seller can withdraw the property from auction.

Bidders also need to verify their identity and demonstrate their authority over any legal entity (such as an LLC or holding company) that will take the title of the property, if applicable. Furthermore, a deposit is often required before getting permission to participate in the auction.

You can find auction opportunities in local newspapers (most jurisdictions are required to advertise tax sales), online through auctioneer sites like and posted in public places like a county courthouse.

Consult with an experienced real estate agent or appraiser before the auction to determine an estimated market value and what the property will likely sell for. This is especially important if you plan to flip the home.

Your agent might also be able to obtain permission for you to tour the property before the auction. (Castle notes that bidders are usually not allowed to walk through the home on the day of the auction.)

One alternative to purchasing a home at auction is buying a property via a short sale, which typically comes with the right to inspect the home in advance, a warranty deed and the requirement that the seller must pay any outstanding liens and taxes before closing. In a short sale, the mortgage lender agrees to accept a sale price less than the balance owed on the mortgage. This can happen when a borrower is financially in distress.

Another way that properties end up going to auction is due to unpaid property taxes. The tax authority eventually takes control of the property and puts it up for auction to pay off after the tax lien. This auction is typically handled through the local jurisdiction or tax controller.

Sometimes, the property owner simply wants to unload the property fast and as-is. Sales on auction markets often go faster than on the traditional market, which is desirable for some property types. Large, expensive homes can be sold this way, but it is more commonly seen with houses in disrepair.

The biggest reason investment-minded individuals take this risk is the chance for a bargain. Houses can go for low prices at auction. Even with considerable repair required, that can be desirable for those who want investment properties, but cannot secure properties priced at market value.

Ready to expand and expand fast? Auctions go fast from bids to closing, which can be very desirable. The ability to get started on your next investment project right away rather than going through a lengthy escrow period and closing process is great motivation for many landlord buyers at auctions.

Finally, learning from the experience and experienced investors at auctions can be enlightening. Seeing the prices paid, the bids placed, and the types of properties that draw the most interest will help you understand what experienced buyers find most enticing. This can be good for finding bargains yourself and learning indicators of a good buy.

Auctions are a different buying process than traditional sales. Suppose the property is a foreclosure or otherwise seized asset. Be sure to read all paperwork clearly, and work with a real estate attorney if possible so that nothing is missed. The purchase terms will ensure you are protected as much as possible.

Cash is often required for home auctions, meaning you must have a large amount of cash on hand. While some auction houses allow financing options, they may be more limited or at higher interest rates than you are used to. This is a big investment, so you should be careful about getting in over your head.

Houses at auction are typically sold unseen. Depending on the type and terms of the auction, there may be various pictures showing the inside of the house, but it will not be as thorough as you would see in person.

No; you will be working directly with a third-party institution like a bank, a broker, or the auction house selling the property. Real estate agents are not part of this process. You will see necessary financing and title company employees as the sale closes, but you do not need to worry about securing a real estate agent to bid at an auction.

It is possible to finance a house bought at auction in some cases. Ultimately, it is up to the group selling the house to decide what will and will not be accepted. Many auction houses allow financing and may even have their preferred lenders on-site at the auction to set up the financing for buyers.

You may also be allowed to bring pre-approval from another third-party lender to show you can finance the purchase. Check the auction terms in advance to ensure you have the necessary funds and documentation before bidding.

The vast majority of homes sold at auction are foreclosures. Lenders want to get as much as possible for homes that borrowers have defaulted on, and auctions offer a convenient way to accomplish this goal.

Houses can also end up at auction due to a lack of paying property taxes. Local authorities can attempt to seize the property for payment in this circumstance. A tax lien will be put on the property first.

They also offer careful investors opportunities to find great deals. Buying a house at auction is facilitated by an auction house which is a company that handles auctions. Auction houses are also sometimes known as where the auction will take place.

They are also known as in-person auctions. Specific auction companies will be in charge of selling auction properties. The auction company and their contact information will be part of the information provided in the auction advertisement.

Each home auction will have its own set of rules and requirements that you need to adhere to. Although it is perfectly fine to show up to a live auction to check it out if you plan on bidding, you must complete a registration, including submitting financial documents. 041b061a72


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