Monday, April 16, 2007

Sheriff Sales In Wisconsin

The Monroe Times reports from Wisconsin. "It's 9 a.m. and Deputy Steve Hoesly is ready to start the auction. Foreclosures of homes resulting in sheriff's sales have increased recently, from 10 in 1997 to 58 in 2006, according to statistics from the Green County Sheriff's Department. The highest number in a given year was 67 in 2005."

"Locally, auctions generally are held in the basement conference room of the Green County Sheriff's Department. But the room is occupied, so Hoesly conducts the sale in the employee break room. Beth Luhman from the Green County treasurer's office joins him, a representative from the office always sits in on the sales. Any back taxes owed on the property will become the responsibility of the new owner."

"On this Tuesday morning, there is one written bid for the property, and it's from the current owner of the house. He has bid about $7,000 more than the amount of judgment against him. If just one person steps forward and offers one cent more than that, the property would be theirs."

"But no one else shows up. With little ado, the bid is declared the winner."

"It's not always this simple, Hoesly said. Sometimes, third-party buyers, or individuals who aren't representing either the mortgage holder or the homeowner, show up at sheriff's sale to bid. Once in awhile, there will be active bidding."

"Hoesly is quick to point out he's not an auctioneer. He's a deputy with 23 years in at the Green County Sheriff's department, the last six in civil process. State statutes dictate the local sheriff's department conduct sheriff's sales in foreclosure cases. Civil process also handles evictions, small claims matters, restraining orders and the occasional vehicle repossession."

"After the sale, the buyer is required to provide 10 percent down on the property. A real estate transfer form then is filed and a confirmation hearing before the judge makes the property transfer official."

"Stereotypes about foreclosed homes sold at public auction aren't always true. The homes sold, for example, aren't necessarily run down or abandoned. 'There's all kinds of homes,' he said. Some are in poor condition, others are 'quite nice.'"

"Nor is it always a great deal for potential buyers. Lenders often will submit a bid to make sure a property doesn't go too cheaply. And because homes in foreclosure aren't open for inspection before the sale, buyers don't know what kind of repairs may be needed."

"'Sometimes, you get a good deal, sometimes not,' Hoesly said, adding he doesn't have any information about the home or its condition. 'I just post them,' he said."

"Often, homes at auction still have people living in them until a sheriff's sale and confirmation hearing. Because of that, Hoesly warns interested buyers not to trespass to get a better look at the property. 'I tell them if you go up and peek in windows, you do so at your own risk,' he said."

"Once in awhile, the homeowner will attend or contact Hoesly to find out the auction's result. But they usually aren't emotional about it, he said. 'When it gets to that point, they pretty much figure it's done,' he said. 'A lot of times, it's a relief.'"


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