NWI - Lake County Sheriff Sales

5 Replies

Hello all! I am looking for some help/advice on working pre-forclosures and auctions in Lake County Indiana. More specifically, I've been looking at the Lake County Indiana Sheriff's "Sale Listings" posted on their website. My plan is to get the list into excel, filter by target area and find out assessed values for properties using the assessors' website. If I subtract the judgement amount from the assessed value I might have something resembling an equity estimate for each property. For the ones that have sufficient equity I would reach out to the seller to try to buy it, and if all else fails, I could try to buy it at auction. Obviously I am glossing over title work, etc., but I am just trying to get a general idea of how people might approach lead generation using the monthly sheriff sales data. Is this even a good starting point for finding deals? Any input is appreciated!

If it works anything like it does here, it's a waste of time. I've followed the sheriff's sales in my county for years looking for a deal, and it just isn't there. The banks price them high enough to recover costs involved in the foreclosure every time. 

You'd be far better off to see if your county has public access to mortgages in arrears notices notices online somewhere, and pursue the preforclosure route, as best as I can tell. For instance, in my county you can do a search through the courthouse website's link to some 3rd party site for lis pendens notices that have gone out in a given time frame. The search costs $6.95 to do, but that's pretty cheap. What you get there is a list of people in the county that are behind on their mortgage, and the bank is beginning the foreclosure process. From there you get the person's name, the address (sometimes), the parcel #, and a few more bits of info. You can find the property from the address or the parcel number on the county GIS map webpage. Once you have the address (which is on the GIS if it wasn't in the lis pendens itself), and you've looked at the property to see if it is something you're interested in, then you can send them a letter an ask to buy them out of the mortgage, or work something out with them to get the place on the cheap. You could also call them if you can find their phone #, or even facebook them; if you feel like that strategy is effective. That's pretty much the whole preforclosure purchase game in a nutshell. 

I've literally watched it for years, and while the foreclosures seem overpriced at the sheriff's sales, all those people buying preforclosures swear that there's deals to be found by going through all that. 

Also, perhaps Indiana is different than Wisconsin, and the sheriff's sales are worthwhile, lol. Just make sure you go down and do a title search to make sure you're not saddled with a tax lien, a second mortgage, or some other type of lien on the property you buy. 

Thanks for the advice. I will have to check to see if I can find a compiled list of lis pendens in Lake County. 

Yeah not sure how many deals are being had at the sheriff sale over in Lake County, but would love to hear from someone who works these things to get a sense of what it's like over there. 

First of all, you need to attend the sale in person even if you are not there to bid on a specific property.  You want to get an understanding about how the sale is conducted.  In Indiana, each county has some leeway in how their sale is conducted.  So the rules in one county may differ greatly from the next county over.

In November, there were 33 properties that sold to third party buyers in the Lake County sale. 

Dan, thanks for your reply! Those are good numbers given the number of places I've seen listed in a given month. Do you think using my approach would be a decent way to work pre-foreclosures? I would imagine the sellers would be very motivated this late in the process. But maybe I can cast a wider net going with the lis pendens. I agree it would be useful to visit an actual sale. Not sure where Westfield is...any interest in going? Haha.

The challenges of buying the property before the sale:

  1. The owner might be hard to locate, often the houses are vacant.
  2. Often more is owed on the property than what it is worth to an investor.
  3. There might be other liens (which a title company could determine.)

But if you can find properties with the right numbers and the people willing to sell, it could work.  Just remember that you might have to look through quite a few situations to find a workable deal.