Obtaining Upset Price When No Attorney Name is Given??

18 Replies

Hello all,

Up until now, all of the sheriff's sales I've been to have had the attorney/firm name on the sale list. I'd call the firm and ask for the upset price a day or two before the sale. Half the time they give it, they other half they refuse (is this typical for everyone else?) Recently I attended a sheriff's sale in a different county - on the sale list the only info given was the plaintiff/defendant (i.e. Wells Fargo vs. John Doe), the property address and the judgement amount. How can I find the upset price with this limited info?

Look forward to any wisdom. Thanks in advance!

@Chad Jarrah

This is going to be specific to the state of Pennsylvania.  Hopefully, now that i typed it some folks will look at this who know about the foreclosure process there.

Because it sounds like your in a judicial foreclosure state, I bet you will have to look at the court documents to find the attorney who filed the action.

It is possible that the attorneys won't give you the opening bid because they don't have it yet from the bank.

Where are you getting your sale list from?

What is this term "upset price"?  We call it an opening bid.  Who's getting upset?

Thanks for the response @William Hochstedler ...I get the sale list from the county website.  I don't know why it's called upset price, although you're right - it's pretty much the opening bid the bank bringing the judgement will give.  They typically have the opening bid the day before the sale. Having that info would help me in knowing where they stand and if I'm interested in bidding.

Pretty sure it's not an error...I think this county just does it differently than I'm used to. I might have to do what you initially said - go to the court documents.

A search at the county prothonotary on the party names should give a case / docket number. The docket info should have the name of an attorney - the name should then be researched at the county bar association to get contact info if contact info hadn't already been given. 

Sometimes you can't get the upset amount until the attorney is already in the courtroom; some bidders will yell "who is here for attorney name" to see what the bid will be in advance; that makes sense in those counties that take many hours to conduct the sheriff sale, only to discover that the bank's bid is way too high. 

Some firms will not give the upset bids in advance. And one big firm just recently (late in 2015) stopped giving the upset bids in advance. IMO, that can be detrimental to the foreclosing lender, because if the lender is willing to let a property go for far less than the published debt - many bidders would just ignore the property that is over-encumbered compared to market value. But if you know that the lender will let it go for a lot less, you might actually prepare a bid and give the property a quick examination. 

Check this website.  You can search by keyword and county. (I use the street name, or owner's name if I have it).  

The returned list is the bulletins announcing the judgement.  It should have plaintiff, defendant, judgement amount, and legal description.

www.palegalads.org

Thanks @Steve Babiak ...yeah I think I know the firm you are referring to. Don't know why they did this. I agree that I feel it limits bidders. Thanks for the tips as well...I will do this.

Thanks @Jason Krick ...this site will come in handy. The county that I'm having trouble with is actually in NJ. But maybe there is a site similar to your for Jersey.

@Chad Jarrah @William Hochstedler

Hello fellas. I worked at one of he bigger pa foreclosure firms a few yrs back. The upset price as explained to me, is the price that the bank gives out attorneys. At the auctions, the attorney would keep bidding until set prices is reached, as the bank would be "upset" with anything below that. A fair bit of the time, we would return from auction continuing to owning the property because there were no bidders willing to get to that range.

Thanks @Handel Carter...I never actually knew why the term "upset" was used. Since you worked at one of these bigger firms in Pennsylvania, do you have any insight as to how to get the upset prices prior to auction, especially from the firms that are reluctant to or refuse to give them?

Originally posted by @Handel Carter :

Chad Jarrah William Hochstedler

Hello fellas. I worked at one of he bigger pa foreclosure firms a few yrs back. The upset price as explained to me, is the price that the bank gives out attorneys. At the auctions, the attorney would keep bidding until set prices is reached, as the bank would be "upset" with anything below that. A fair bit of the time, we would return from auction continuing to owning the property because there were no bidders willing to get to that range.

It's amazing to me that this shilling at foreclosure auctions is apparently legal, so thank you for pointing it out.

Thanks,

Chaz

Originally posted by @Charles McCabe :
Originally posted by @Handel Carter:

Chad Jarrah William Hochstedler

Hello fellas. I worked at one of he bigger pa foreclosure firms a few yrs back. The upset price as explained to me, is the price that the bank gives out attorneys. At the auctions, the attorney would keep bidding until set prices is reached, as the bank would be "upset" with anything below that. A fair bit of the time, we would return from auction continuing to owning the property because there were no bidders willing to get to that range.

It's amazing to me that this shilling at foreclosure auctions is apparently legal, so thank you for pointing it out.

Thanks,

Chaz

There is no shill involved in what was described. The lender hires an attorney to represent the lender. The lender determines how much they are willing to have the bid go to, and the lender instructs their attorney representative to bid accordingly. 

Now, on occasion the attorney might also represent other clients, and will bid higher than the lender's max bid because some other client wishes to acquire a property. But that does not involve a shill either. In the end, if the attorney has the winning bid, there is a client of that attorney who will be paying for the property. 

@Steve Babiak OK.  Seems like the definition of a shill in the context of an auction.  As I understand it, the lender doesn't really want the property; they just want to make sure they don't lose [too much] money on it.

I'm sitting at the DelCo sheriff's sale for the first time right now and every time the attorney has bid $1 and not once has anyone bid less than the upset price. The vast majority of the properties have gone to the attorney;  I'd say less than 10% have even gotten competitive bids. 

EDIT: Ah, it's actually in the DelCo Conditions of Sale that, "Any bidding above costs for a property shall begin at the upset price...The upset price will be viewed as the least amount acceptable by the plaintiff."

I have a question about this as well - I was able to sit in on a sheriff auction last week and there were several properties that went uncontested to the bank for $1,000 (which was also the opening bid).  It seemed that there were only very experienced buyers there and it made me feel like they already knew what the upset amount was and didn't bother bidding against the $1,000 because the bid would end up going to the bank anyway. 

If the bidding goes up but doesn't reach the upset price - I'm guessing the bank still has to settle that price with the sheriffs office and I could see that being a pretty newbie move on my part!

So- it sounds like people generally talk to the lawyer before the auction to find out the upset price? I've heard of other people only bidding on properties that other people bid on and that sounds silly to me - is it?

Thanks!