Sheriff sales are the end result of defaults on mortgages or a failure by the homeowner to pay taxes or condo association dues on their property. The process itself, however, can be a mystery to those who have had no experience with it however, it can offer the opportunity to acquire real estate at below market values. The foreclosure auction process commonly spans approximately 12-months and proceeds as follows:
IN FORECLOSURE OF MORTGAGE CASES
When a homeowner defaults on his or her mortgage, the lender files a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, New Cases) The court then sets a trial date. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, Hearing Schedule)
Upon a trial date being set, the due diligence process begins with the Clerk of Courts sending letters to all defendants. The defendants consist of not only the borrower and the principle lender, but may include additional lenders with whom the homeowner has a second-mortgage or home equity loan, the Franklin County Treasurer who may be owed taxes, and any other parties with known involvement. This step is known as “service of process.”
After the parties have been notified, the court allows them a time period to provide an “answer” to the complaint. The homeowner can challenge the charges, saying s/he has indeed made his mortgage payments as per his agreement with the lender, or s/he may choose not to respond if s/he believes the facts presented are accurate. Also at this time, any other person who was not named as a defendant may choose to add his/her name to the case. This means that if a contractor, for example, had completed work for which s/he has not been paid, s/he essentially can add his/her name to the list of those who are owed money by the homeowner.
After a predetermined amount of time, whether there are changes to the original complaint or not, the Common Pleas judge will issue an order for foreclosure and for the real estate in question to be sold at auction through the foreclosure sale.
The attorney for the lender (or other entity that filed the complaint) will now file a praecipe with the court. This is a command for the sheriff to appraise, advertise and auction the property.
The sheriff’s department chooses three independent appraisers to separately evaluate the property. These individuals have no authority to enter the home, however, and therefore appraisals often are based only on an exterior inspection of the property. In advertising the property for sale, the sheriff’s department generally states whether the appraised value is based upon an exterior-only inspection.
After obtaining the three appraisals, the sheriff’s department will schedule the sale date of the property. They will then advertise the property in The Daily Reporter once a week for three consecutive weeks. (This information is found under Sheriff’s Sale in the Public Notice section of The Daily Reporter. The full notice of the sale will run on Tuesdays during this three-week period, and on Thursdays during those five weeks, a summary of the information can be found in The Daily Reporter under Abstract of Sheriff’s Sale. (On the Thursday following the sale date, the results of the auction also will be published under Abstracts)
At this point, the sheriff can proceed with auctioning the property. The auction will be conducted at the Franklin County Courthouse, 373 S. High St., at 9am on the scheduled date. Interested bidders do not need to pre-register for the auction, but they must be prepared to meet the terms of sale as stated in the sheriff’s sale notice. Bidding generally starts at two-thirds of the appraised value, with deposits generally amounting to 10% of the appraised value but specifications regarding deposits and completion of sale do vary greatly.
Any time up to the day of the scheduled sale, however, the sale can be withdrawn by the lender (plaintiff). There are many reasons for withdrawing a property from sale, but this happens most commonly when the homeowner files for personal bankruptcy (which suspends foreclosure action until the bankruptcy action is settled, typically 3-6 months), when the homeowner arranges to sell the property on his own in advance of the sale, or when the homeowner makes arrangements for refinancing the property.
If the property is withdrawn, the homeowner may be responsible for covering the costs of the case and the case will be dismissed by either the plaintiff or a judge. It may be dismissed with or without prejudice. Dismissal with prejudice means the case never can be filed again, and dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility of bringing the suit again if the defendant does not follow through on the terms of the settlement.
If the property is sold at a sheriff’s sale, a judge will issue a decision confirming the sale and ordering the distribution of proceeds by the sheriff’s office. The sheriff will distribute the funds and issue a deed to the new owner of the property. (The notice will be found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Court, Real Estate Transfers)
If the property is not sold at sheriff’s sale, but the case has not been settled, the property can be re-advertised for sale. This may happen numerous times if the terms of the sale are not met. The first time a property is re-advertised, it will contain wording that it is an “Alias Order of Sale.” If the property is re-advertised a second or third time (or more), it will contain wording that it is a “Pluries Order of Sale.” When there is need to re-advertise a property, the process begins as it did originally: with a three-time publication of the notice of the sale.
IN FORECLOSURE OF TAX LIEN CASES
If a property owner neglects, or chooses not to pay real estate taxes on his property, whether he still resides on the property or has abandoned it, the county treasurer will at some point make a decision to file a foreclosure of tax lien case to recover the delinquent property taxes. He will notify the county prosecutor, who will file a claim in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division on behalf of the county, against the property owner. The court then sets a trial date.
As in a foreclosure of mortgage case, parties with a financial interest will be served and will have an opportunity to respond to the court. In this type of sheriff’s sale, however, there are no independent appraisals, and bidding will start no lower than the amount of past-due property taxes owed to the county.
Foreclosure of Tax Lien Case notices are published in The Daily Reporter once a week for three consecutive weeks. (This information is found in the Public Notice section of The Daily Reporter, under Sheriff’s Sale of Real Estate, Treasurer’s Sale. The full notice of the sale will run on Tuesdays during this three-week period, and on Thursdays during those three weeks, a summary of the information can be found in The Daily Reporter under Abstract of Sheriff’s Sale. On the Thursday following the sale date, the results of the auction also will be published under Abstracts)
Some of the notices for this type of sale will include language that allows a subdivision that has an interest in the property to buy said property for the cost of the delinquent taxes if no outside bid is received on it. If the subdivision does not exercise its right to purchase the property, it will be re-advertised for sale. If the notice does not specify that the subdivision may purchase the property, it still can bid on the property as would any other potential buyer. If it chooses not to do so, the property will be re-advertised for sale. (Unlike with a foreclosure of mortgage case, however, the second and third notices will not be marked as Alias or Pluries.)
The successful bidder in a Treasurer’s Sale must pay a deposit amount determined by the prosecuting attorney’s office at the close of the auction. This amount will include the entire amount of taxes due as well as court costs and other related costs.
Liens on properties sold at auction are paid in the following order: (1) treasurer, that is unpaid back taxes (in Ohio taxes are paid in arrears and thus the winning bidder will be responsible for the unpaid taxes for the year the property is purchased) (2) Homeowners or Condo Associations, if there are unpaid dues to the homeowners or condo association these liens will be paid second (3) the bank or mortgage holder will be the third party to be paid (4) any additional lien holders including contractors with mechanic’s liens, judgments from creditor’s including medical bills, etc.
If you’re considering purchasing a home at auction through a sheriff’s sale there are some caveats you need to be aware of and I’d encourage you to give us a call! We offer professional real estate advice and look forward to helping you achieve your real estate goals!
The Opland Group Specializes in Real Estate Sales, Luxury Home Sales, Short Sales in; Bexley 43209 Columbus 43201 43206 43214 43215 Delaware 43015 Dublin 43016 43017 Gahanna 43219 43230 Grandview Heights 43212 Hilliard 43026 Lewis Center 43035 New Albany 43054 Pickerington Powell 43065 Upper Arlington 43220 43221 Westerville 43081 43082 Worthington 43235