Bought house at Foreclosure Auction - now what?

32 Replies

I have questions about the process AFTER buying a property at a county foreclosure auction and how I should proceed.  I have an appointment with a local RE attorney next week but I thought I would ask the veterans here before going to see him. 

Any and all help is appreciated.

So this is my first investment property.  Hoping to renovate and then rent it out. 

Property is in Fulton county, Georgia.

I did as much research on the property as possible, including title search, before going to the auction yesterday. I bid and won at the sale. Hooray!

The title search shows $900 in unpaid state taxes. No other liens that I can find.

Paid in full for the property after the sale. The attorney handling the title is McCalla Raymer LLC.

I drove by the property a few times over the last 2 weeks.  I believe that IT IS STILL OCCUPIED but I'm not 100% certain.  It's not boarded up.  There's a car parked in the driveway and the landscaping looks well kept.

So, please correct me if I'm mistaken but are the following correct:

The money that I paid goes to the foreclosure attorney (McCalla Raymer LLC).

If the previous owner did not declare bankruptcy in the last couple of months then the attorney will prepare a Deed under Power of Sale (Trustee's Deed) for me which is recorded in the county real estate records. This deed transfers property ownership to me.

If all is well, the attorney should mail me the trustee's deed in 4 - 8 weeks.

If there are any IRS liens on the property then they need to contact me within 120 days in order to enforce them.  Otherwise they fall off.

So what do I do from this point forward?

Do I wait for the trustee's deed and THEN purchase Title insurance, pay the $900 in back real estate taxes, and record the deed in my name?  

Is there anything that I should be doing now in order to manage the title correctly?

What about the possible occupant?  I'd like to take possession as soon as possible.  

I did some research and this is what I think I know:

If someone is living at the property then they are considered a "tenant at sufferance" and I need mail them a certified “demand for possession” letter.  Correct?

If they do not move out by the deadline on the demand, then I file an eviction case or “dispossessory” case in the local Magistrate court. This complaint will be served by the local Sheriff.  They then have seven days to file an answer.  They may move out at that point.

If they file an answer instead then it goes to court and will probably end with a "writ of possession" which is the actual eviction where the Sheriff shows up at the property and evicts the occupants.

Does all of this sound correct?

If so, when should I mail the demand for possession letter?  Should I mail that tomorrow in order to gain possession as soon as possible or should I wait until I get the trustee's deed transferred into my name?

Is there anything else that I'm missing?

Thanks in advance for the help!

Robert

Best first post I've ever read!  At first, I feared you jumped the gun and bought a house not knowing what you were doing.   I figured you were overly anxious and ill prepared, but your post reads otherwise.  

Process is correct.  However, remember there's a legal process and there's a reasonable process.  Reasonable process is to act like a reasonable human and go knock on the door of the house you just purchased.  With hat in hand, say hello to the tenant and let them know you've just purchased the property and ask if you can set up time to speak with them (spouse, etc.).   Find out if they are former owners or renters.  Bank/Fannie may have had tenants in for a year.  Who knows?

Let them know you want to find a way to reach an agreement to vacate the property for renovations, etc. without attorney involvement.  If they're owners, be quick, otherwise, you might want to be a little more flexible.

If the lease is at market rate, then you have some issues.  However, it's likely not at market and the tenants more than likely will accept my favorite tool of a landlord, "cash for keys".   Cash for keys is a great way to take possession very quickly and most importantly, agreeably.  It lessens the risk of damage to the premises upon exit. 

Congrats on the house!

Rick

Hope you got a great deal.  You definitely did your homework before you bought are in good shape to take possession. As Rick pointed out above, you should be knocking on the door ASAP to assess the current occupant situation. 

I'm not familiar with GA laws, but there is typically a redemption period that the foreclosed owner has to pay off the judgement.  Having said that, I just did a quick search and see that GA does not have a redemption period, so you should have the green light to proceed with all the actions you listed above immediately.

Your lawyer should be able to run a comprehensive title search and provide the title insurance after you've cleared the back taxes and any other liens that may show.  

@Steve Babiak and @Wayne Brooks may also want to chime in to share their immense knowledge and experience with auctions.

Good luck with the rehab and getting rented. 

Awesome!

Rick - Great advice.  Thanks!  I"ll grab my hat and head over to the property today.

Chad - Thanks for confirming the redemption period laws for GA & my next plan of action.   Also, it sounds like the RE lawyer should be able to handle the title search and insurance.

Thanks again!

Update:  

I drove by the property yesterday and the previous owner was outside so I approached him and we were able to talk about the foreclosure.  Nice enough guy and he was aware that the house was scheduled for auction but said that he had a federal lawsuit against the foreclosure company (McCalla Raymer) and that the house shouldn't have gone to auction.

Apparently McCalla Raymer was accused of robo-signing foreclosure documents and the homeowner is pursuing this accusation as a defense.  

Doesn't sound like a credible defense to me.  

What do you guys think?

We exchanged numbers and I told him I would touch base next week after I looked in to the situation.

I also went ahead and mailed him a "3 day demand for possession" letter via USPS return receipt today just in case I need to pursue the traditional eviction process.

Here's a link to an article about the robo-signing.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/class-action-suit-f...

I also buy at GA foreclosure auction and most recently, through McCalla Raymer. They no longer mail deeds to you but will file on your behalf. They also have a new internet portal where you can track the progress. Call them for the info.

As to the owner, I would move forward with the proceeding. I made the mistake on my last flip listening to the McCalla Raymer argument, etc. It was a stall tactic. No lawsuit filed by that person, etc. The owner never did leave. We had to evict. Lost a good amount of time.

In GA, make sure you put "and all others in possession" on your petition after the owner's name. I made the mistake of not doing so and it cost me three weeks.

Other things I learned at least in Cobb: sheriff takes longer to serve than a licensed process server but costs the same, filing by Internet slows the process better to go to the courthouse, demand does not have to be a three day. You can demand and then file.

I also asked for reasonable rent from the owner, not because I thought that I would get it, just because the judge would order it. Once again, in Cobb, if you get a judgment, it CANNOT be appealed by the owner UNLESS they put the amount of the judgment into the court registry. This prevents bogus appeals meant to waste more time.

Good Luck.

Hey Kalimah!  Man, thanks for the tips.  Exactly the kind of practical advice that I was hoping for.  This gives me a confident plan of action. 

Quick question:  Do I request a licensed process server (instead of sheriff) the day I file at the courthouse?  Or do I request that some other way?

@Rick Baggenstoss gave good advice to start a dialog if occupied.

Regarding IRS liens. There is the notion of "constructive notice", the IRS must be properly notified of the impending sheriff sale or trustee sale for the IRS judgment to be extinguished as a lien against the property. How that is supposed to be done could vary from one location to another, but the redemption period only kicks in upon the sale after proper notice. 

@David Krulac has posted some details at this next link:

http://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/48/topics/1623...

@Robert Evans - since you seem capable, I would suggest you do a case search for the former owner's lawsuit vs the lender (or lender's attorney).  Or see if the owner files a lawsuit challenging the sale. One or the other could possibly overturn the sale. 

Keep in mind that theses sorts of sales have a local flavor to them, so those of us not local to that area might not be quite accurate enough ...

Steve - thanks for the suggestions!  I'll start a case search tomorrow.  Hopefully the transition into the property will go smoothly. 

@Robert Evans   I'm curious how this worked out for you.  Would you mind to update what happened and where you are in the process now?

Funny you should ask....

I started the eviction process through magistrate court this past April.

The previous owner (who's been living in the house, and who is still living in the house) fought the eviction   I went to magistrate court 3 times about it and I thought it was about to be over with when I was told that the guy filed a federal lawsuit against me & the mortgage lender alleging fraudulent foreclosure.  So this thing has been tied up in federal court up until two days ago.  

The guy was acting as his own lawyer and just made up a bunch of legal sounding non-sense as to why the foreclosure was not valid.  It was 30 pages of just rambling crazyness & unsubstantiated allegations toward the mortgage lender.  I got into contact with the mortgage co's legal team and we both requested that the case be dismissed.  It took until this week to have a federal judge read through the case and to officially dismiss it with a summary judgement.  So now I'm back to the eviction process.

It's frustrating that it's taken this long just to get back to the eviction process.  The upside is that it looks like I won't have to deal with a formal federal court proceeding.  

This is my first real estate investment purchase.  Talk about a learning experience.  lol

Thanks for asking.  ;-)

 

@Robert Evans Thanks for the follow-up. I read the thread a while back and forgot about it. Good to see you get some traction finally. 

Btw did you get to see the inside of the house, do you know how that looks like?  

@Robert Evans  Wow!  Sorry to hear that it's dragging on so long.  The reason I found your post was because I was preparing to go to an auction later today (occupied house) and was looking for conversations about courthouse sales with occupied houses.  I haven't bought anything at the courthouse yet so I'm approaching the idea with extreme caution.  My personal rule (for now) is to never buy a house at auction that's occupied without first talking to the occupant.  That can be dangerous so I would only do it if the deal looked REALLY good and I REALLY wanted the house. This appears to be the only way to know if the owner is willing to accept cash for keys or if they're gearing up for a fight.  

I appreciate you sharing your situation.  It's solidified my resolve to stick to the cautious approach.  I hope your project works out for you!

Florian:  I have not seen the interior yet.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it's in good condition.  

Michael W:  I'm with you on being cautious. I knew that this would be a learning process from the beginning and I welcomed that.  I knew that I run into some hurdles and I was fine with that as well.  But I had no idea that this would turn into a federal case and take more than 6 months to even start the eviction process.  I'm learning lots! First hand!  lol

Thanks for updating this post.  I'm also noob who just purchased occupied properties at foreclosure auction.  Maybe now owner open to cash for keys? 

Gerald

Hey Gerald,  

Yes I'm going to contact him this week to discuss cash for keys.  Thanks for the suggestion.

I would love an update to this story.  Please tell us what is happening.  When the thread stops and the original poster quits it's like having a favorite TV show cancelled at a cliff hanger.

Chris Anderson

Thanks for asking Chris, 

He's still in the property. 

So, because the federal case was dismissed, the Magistrate eviction case (which I started in early April of this year) was re-opened.  

We went before the Magistrate eviction court & after explaining the situation, my eviction request was granted.  I paid for a writ of possession the next day in order to gain legal possession of the property via the Marshal's forcefully evicting the previous owner.  I was told that this normally takes 7 -10 days after filing the writ.  I checked the status of the case online the next day and discovered that the previous owner appealed the eviction decision.  His appeal stayed the writ so he's still in the house. 

He hired an attorney this time and they're still arguing that the foreclosure was invalid and thus illegal.  Their appeal brief was sent to the state court where an appeals judge dismissed it last week and it was remanded back to Magistrate.

I called the Magistrate court yesterday to ask about the status of the case & I was told that I need to wait for another court date in Magistrate in order to talk about the appeal & hopefully move forward with the writ of possession. 

I'm hoping for the court date before the 15th of January.   

Thanks again for asking about the status.  I'll update this thread as it evolves.

Wow very interesting, I have always being curious on how a situation like this would be handled. I would love some updates. Good Luck

So, the PO failed to pay the $250 fee in order to process the writ appeal so I asked the court to proceed with the eviction.  

I got tired of waiting for the call from the Marshal's so I drove by the house today.  I saw a huge pile of trash & household items by the curb which I dared to believe meant that the PO vacated.  

I walked the property and noticed the back door wide open so I knocked - announced myself - then let myself into the house.  I found it mostly empty with no major damage!  It looks like the PO vacated over the past few days!  

Woot!

It only took 9+ months!  lol

I'm planning a big clean out tomorrow and changing the locks, etc.....

I'm assuming that he filed the eviction appeal without paying the fees as another stalling tactic.  It allowed him anther 4 - 6 weeks.  

Regardless, I'm glad to finally have possession.  This has been quite the learning experience.  Hopefully I can get it completely rehabbed in the next few months.  

I appreciate the interest and support.  

Robert

And the story continues....

I took possession last Wednesday, put his possessions on the curb in front of the house, and changed the door locks as planned.  I went to visit my family over the weekend and returned today (Monday) to find different locks on all of the doors! 

The PO found his way back in and changed all of the door locks!  I called the police, an offer came out to the property, and told me to start a criminal trespassing case against him because they can't do anything about it until it's officially a criminal offense.  So in the meantime I'm locked out of the property again.  

Oh my goodness, the saga continues lol Sorry to hear about your woes. I am getting ready myself to go to an auction tomorrow for the first time. And I've learned a lot just by reading your post. Thanks for sharing and I hope this will be over soon!

Well it is Fulton County... What did you expect :) The court system there is about as bad as Dekalb.

I wish you the best and please keep us updated.  Sounds like you have a professional on your hands.

Originally posted by @Robert Evans :

And the story continues....

I took possession last Wednesday, put his possessions on the curb in front of the house, and changed the door locks as planned.  I went to visit my family over the weekend and returned today (Monday) to find different locks on all of the doors! 

The PO found his way back in and changed all of the door locks!  I called the police, an offer came out to the property, and told me to start a criminal trespassing case against him because they can't do anything about it until it's officially a criminal offense.  So in the meantime I'm locked out of the property again.  

 Robert, may you finally see the end of this painful process soon.  Talk about a learning experience!  Many thanks to you for sharing your continuing saga with us at BP.

(503) 855-4714

Hello Robert,

Just checking to see if hopefully you got everything worked out. Please update us when you can. Im at the edge of my seat.

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