Attorneys at Law

Be Informed.

Be informed.

What You Need to Know before Bidding on a Property at a Sheriff’s Sale in Pennsylvania

Whether you are in the market for your first home or you are planning to purchase your 20th property, it always makes sense to try to get the “most bang for your buck.” Purchasing property from a sheriff’s sale often offers just that.

However, there are also risks involved when bidding on property at a sheriff’s sale. Before you dive in, consider the following things that you need to know before bidding on a property at a sheriff’s sale in Pennsylvania.

  1. How does property end up in a sheriff’s sale? A property ends up at a sheriff’s sale because a creditor has obtained a judgment against the property for a debt owed to the creditor. The most common reason is because the property owner defaulted on a mortgage loan.
  2. Where can you find a list of properties up for auction? Typically, the sheriff’s office posts a list outside the office and/or on their website 30 days prior to the intended sale date.
  3. Can you look at the property before bidding on it? You may drive by a property, but you cannot go inside because the property is usually owned by someone else up to the date of the sheriff’s sale. Therefore, you are purchasing a property “As Is” without the benefit of inspection.
  4. Do you get a guaranteed clear title? The sheriff’s department will not guarantee you clear title to the property. For this reason, potential buyers usually retain the services of a real estate attorney to do a thorough title search prior to the sale date.
  5. Can a property be pulled from the sale at the last minute? The property owner could satisfy the debt or file for bankruptcy protection, for example, which would result in the sale being stopped, or at least postponed.
  6. What type of payment arrangements are available? Typically, a successful bidder is required to have at least 10 percent of the winning bid price in guaranteed funds on the day of sale. You may also be required to produce a letter of credit from your financial institution showing that you can pay the remaining balance. In any event, the remaining balance is usually due within a week to ten days and must be paid with guaranteed funds.
  7. Does Pennsylvania have a right of redemption law? Right of redemption laws allow a property owner a certain amount of time within which to get a home back, or “redeem” it, after a sheriff’s sale by paying all back payments, costs, and legal fees owed on the property. In Pennsylvania, there is no right of redemption following a mortgage foreclosure sale, but there is a right of redemption following a tax lien foreclosure sale, so be sure you know which one you are participating in.

If you have additional questions regarding sheriff’s sales in Pennsylvania, consult with an experienced Pennsylvania real estate law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the real estate law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your confidential consultation.