Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Auction Process and Pitfalls

It seems that banks are really accelerating their liquidation of non preforming real estate assets.  Recently I've seen a rash of properties appearing on the MLS, though offers are to be made through auction sites.  This is truly a buyer beware situation.  I wanted to take a few minutes and give my opinions on not only the feasibility of buying a property at auction, but also the pitfalls of doing so.

Auctions are really easy to find.  Whether you're looking on, , or locally at, you'll be able to find a number of properties that appear to be for sale.  If you are considering buying through one of these sites there are some really important things you need to know.

Real Estate auctions tend to have a reserve bid that needs to be met in order for the property to sell.  The bank may only be willing to accept a bid well above the properties actual fair market value.  Irrational, yes.  First and foremost you need to understand that just because you see a starting bid price that is low, does not in any way guarantee the bank will sell anywhere near that price.  Should you intent to bid you may be required to post a deposit with the auction company prior to your bid.  The amount varies on the value of the home and auctioneer.  I'm not going to go through the other details of the actual auction process.  If you have questions about the nitty gritty of the process feel free to email me.

Here's what you really need to understand when it comes to auctions, you're not always getting a property with a clear title.  There are a number of ways to achieve a passage of title.  A typical real estate sale will involve a general warranty deed.  This type of deed provides the buyer with a warranty that the property is not subject to any pending legal action, and is free from any other type of encumbrance.  When you buy a property at auction you will likely receive a special warranty deed.  A special warranty deed assures the buyer that the seller is the owner of the property.  It also assures the buyer that the seller has not faced any title issues during the sellers ownership of the property.  The special warranty deed won't protect you from title issues that may have arisen prior to the current seller (likely a bank).  If you buy a property with a special warranty deed you have little to no recourse against the most recent seller, or anyone prior to them, if the title has a defect.  Note I'm not a lawyer and I'm not in any way giving legal advice or opinion.  If you have more detailed questions pertaining to title I would suggest you speak to a title attorney.

Another huge pitfall, you may not even be bidding on a first lien!  You'll find verbiage all over the auction sites which say there may be other encumbrances which survive the sale.  There could be other mortgages, tax liens, judgments, all sorts of ugly stuff.  The winning bidder will take title subject to all defects.  If a seller is holding a property that has a defective title, an easy fix is to sell at auction.  Buyer beware!

It's not all doom and gloom.  If you exercise property due dilligence the auctions can be a great place to find property.  If you're an investor and you're looking to find properties in need to rehab so you can fix and flip, I would dedicate some serious time to the auction calendar.  The key is proper research.  If you're looking to buy properties at auction your first stop should be a meeting with a title attorney.  If you have interest in a property that is coming up for auction you're going to need a title attorney to examine the title prior to bidding.  They'll be able to tell you if there are defects in the title, and if those defects can be cured.  After that you're going to need to get an opinion of the properties value.  I do this pretty frequently for investors.  Then you're going to have to post a deposit with the auction house or clerk of courts should you intend to bid on a property.  So you have to pay a title attorney, pay me (or someone like me) to value your prospective property, and put money up for a deposit.  If you're operating on a shoe string budget, don't try this.  It costs money, it takes time, but if you find the right deal it can be worth both.

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I work as a Realtor in Southeast Fort Lauderdale. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home, condominium, or townhouse (townhome) in: Rio Vista, Victoria Park, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Sailboat Bend, Tarpon River, Croissant Park, Collee Hammock, Wilton Manors, Poinsettia Heights, Coral Ridge, or Las Olas Isles, please feel free to contact me at (786)443-7203 or through my email I am a Realtor that works on Saturdays to accommodate those with busy schedules. is a trusted source for real estate trends, statistics, and data, as well as aesthetics.

Written By Casey Prindle