Bank Owned Auctions: Educate Yourself Before Bidding

It seems that everyone wants to buy foreclosure properties. This is not surprising, because foreclosure homes are the only real estate properties that are within the capacity of many people to buy due to their very low prices.

Real estate experts are swearing on how easy to get rich with properties that have been foreclosed because their owners defaulted on their mortgage payments. There is no doubt that there are great opportunities to be had in buying foreclosure properties. But even if foreclosures are the best investments in the market, you cannot expect to become successful overnight. If you want to do it right and do it successfully, educate yourself first about the foreclosure investing market.

The Auction Process:

One of the safest ways to buy foreclosures is at bank owned auctions. Why? Because the properties sold at bank auction are free of liens. But first, a little bit of background on how properties get to be called bank owned.

Owners of houses that are behind in payments and failed to work out any arrangements that can make their accounts current have no choice but to relinquish their properties to banks where they took out loans.

Banks consider foreclosure properties as non-performing assets. As such, they would like nothing but to sell these foreclosure properties immediately to recover their money to invest on other ventures. They will place these foreclosure properties on auction to allow interested buyers to bid on them.

Advantages of Bank Owned Properties:

For one, you do not have to worry that bank owned properties have unpaid taxes or other liens. Banks will make sure that all properties sold at bank auctions have clean titles. This means no encumbrances that may give reasons to buyers to turn their backs on the deal.

Banks do not want to have a long list of foreclosure properties on their portfolio. Clean titles and low prices are just some ways banks can attract potential buyers for their properties. Furthermore, you do not have to worry about overstaying tenants in bank owned homes. Preparing yourself before investing in foreclosures will make the process go easy and smoother.

The History of the Online Auction

When one thinks of online auctions today, the name eBay certainly comes to mind first. This website was the first in what is now a history of the online auction, which began in 1995, when Pierre Omidyar sold his first item. The item was a broken laser pointer, which sold for $14.83 to a man who collected such objects.

The history of the online auction was born with that sale, and has continued to grow by exponential amounts since the first day. Omidyar quickly found that his hobby of creating an online garage sale needed to become a part-time business, which grew to a full-time endeavor within a very short period of time.

In many ways, it’s thanks to eBay that other online auction sites exist. became a fierce competitor throughout the late 1990’s, as did Yahoo! Auctions, who actually still have majority market share in some countries.

Other auction sites, while not as big, managed to leave their mark. ePier, started by a couple of poor students, has been one of the few auction sites to withstand all storms and continues on today.

Today, there is a definite move away from auctions to more traditional methods of selling. Craig’s List and other online classifieds are gaining popularity, and’s open retail market has also gained quite a bit of market share with individuals peddling goods from their garage.

However, much of their success is owed to the early pioneers of online auctions. Undoubtedly, there will be new technologies and new companies that take the market in a different direction, leaving online auctions to be enjoyed by a niche group, just as it was in the beginning.

The $100 County Auction – Part 1 of Several

Real Estate, at least in Florida, is back to being a hot market again. Everybody wants in and you can tell by the Real Estate ‘Auction’ sites such as and These sites previously would simply work with the banks and ‘Auction’ off their REO inventory, but now everywhere you go you see these $100 minimum bid auctions being advertised on these sites and others like Zillow, Trulia, and

Hey, I want a $100 property, how do I get into this advertised action?

The foreclosure and REO industry is large and complicated with many ways to benefit and many ways to get burned. I won’t go into all the in and outs of the industry and how to benefit, but I would like to touch on these $100 auctions. County auctions are where the foreclosure auction of a property actually takes place. Yes, every single county in every single state holds these auctions on a daily basis. Each county has their own set of rules on what days and times they auction properties as well as whether they hold their auctions online or in person. Whichever County you would like to take part in will have those rules set up usually on their Clerk of the Court’s website.

So, what are the steps that I need to go through in order to bid?

If the county you want to participate in executes their auctions online you will need to create an account with that county before being able to bid. Once your account is created you will need to fill it with funds, the percentages vary, but let’s say that your County needs a 5% deposit of the bid price. So what that means is that you have to place 5% of your possible maximum bid into this account, otherwise they won’t let you bid. You have decided you want to only bid on properties that are $50,000 or less. You will need to add $2500 to your account. If the County you would like to bid in has in person auctions, best to come with a pocket (or briefcase) full of cash, it’ll be due at close of auction.

OK, I am all set up, on to my first auction.

In online auctions there are two ways that bidding can occur, you can set a maximum bid and let the software up your bid as you are outbid or you can watch the auction in real-time and bid manually. So, you have done your research and you have found the house that you would like to bid on… did you get a title report before the auction? Oops, more info on that in a later post.

There are 30 houses being auctioned today, your property is #17. So you wait, and you wait, and property #11 two people are manually bidding against each other and waiting till the last second to put in their bids so this property that should take around 5 minutes is taking 20 minutes. What these two don’t realize is that you can’t sniper bid on these county auctions, it resets the clock. So you watch them for another 5 minutes and somebody finally concedes.

OK, here we are at Property #17. There are too many scenarios to talk through so we will go through a few assuming you are bidding manually.

  • Same scenario as #3, but this time you win the auction for $47,500. Congratulations, but you aren’t done yet. Your dream property doesn’t have a plaintiff max bid, is valued at $60,000, and has a final judgement of $45,000, great you can get in on the action. Bidding starts and it pops to $45,100. OK, the plaintiff (most times the bank) can no longer bid, why not you ask, well that will be another post. The clock is ticking and you put in a bid of $45,800, the bid price goes to $45,500. The clock ticks. The bid price goes to $45,900 all of a sudden, someone outbid you. You put in another bid of $48,000 and the bid price pops to $47,500, you are now winning. The clock ticks, it’s almost yours, nope the bid price goes to $48,100, you’ve been outbid by someone who thinks they can snipe bid you, the clock starts over. This happen for several minutes until the other person takes you over your $50,000 bid cap.
  • Your dream property says that the plaintiff has a max bid set of $35,000, is valued at $60,000, and has a final judgement of $36,000, great you can get in on the action. Bidding starts and it pops to $55,000. Shucks, guess you will have to try again.
  • Your dream property says that the plaintiff has a maximum bid set of $75,000 and the property is valued at $100,000 with a final judgement of $75,000. Oops, guess you should have looked at that prior to spending all that time and effort, you can only bid up to $50,000 with your deposit.

I won – now what?

You won your auction for $47,500. Most of the time the auction will send you an email directly after the auction that you have won with a request for the total that you owe (not just the $47,500) but also fees. If you have $48,000 in your auction account, simply log in and pay it. If you only have $2,500 in your auction account, it’s time to get moving. You now have to go to your bank, get the additional funds so that you can take it down to the county courthouse, deposit those funds, then come back to your computer, login and pay the amounts online. In a lot of counties you only have until the end of the day (4 pm) to pay the funds. If not you will get banned and the property gets re-auctioned. Now you wait 10 days for the deed and proof of purchase. That is if you didn’t just buy a subordinate lien.

I lost – now what?

So you have lost your auction. Unless you want to outbid everyone and money’s no object get used to it. There are a lot of competitors in these auctions, including the banks, and a lot of money that gets used. Do your research, stick to your maximums, and you will get there eventually.

Future Posts

  • Doing your Research
  • Rules for the plaintiff
  • Getting Inside – Securing your vacant winnings, Oops, yours came with Tenants, WOW, not what I expected to see.
  • Possible Problems with your winning Auction – Who are all of these people in the defendant’s list, Right of Redemption – Owner and IRS, Title Reports, Did I just win a subordinate lien? HOA and Equity Lines
  • Property Taxes