Frequently Asked Questions
Our list of Buyer's FAQ's is separated below between "General Real Estate Auction Questions" (these apply to most types of real estate sales), and "Tax Delinquent Real Estate Auctions."
General Real Estate Auction Questions:
1. Where will the auction be held? (Date, Time, & Place)
The heading for each auction posted on our website indicates the date, time, and place (sale location address). Use this address for GPS guidance.
2. Who is selling the property, and why are they selling?
There are numerous reasons a property is being sold at auction. It could be an estate executor/administrator liquidating an estate, a homeowner looking to sell easily and quickly, a divorce settlement, business liquidation, an elderly person(s) looking to downsize, or any number of other reasons. Typically, the reason for the auction is stated in the auction description on our website.
3. Do you have a plat of the property?
Sometimes. If a Seller has a survey/plat available, we will post this information on our website (in the "Documents" section, accessed by clicking on a specific auction). If we do not have one available, a tax map outline can usually be obtained by accessing the county/city online GIS system (which can be accessed through a Google search by county/city).
4. Where can I find the Zoning regulations on this property?
The current zoning information can be found on most county/city online GIS systems. Whenever possible, for properties zoned anything other can "Residential", we will post a copy of the local zoning code "rights and restrictions" on our website (under the "Documents" section for that auction).
5. Where and How do I register for the auction?
For "Live/On-site" auctions, you can register in-person at the stated auction location. Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the auction start time to register and obtain your bidder's number. You will need a government issued I.D. (Driver's License or Military I.D.) with your current address. For "online" enabled auctions, you can register by clicking on the auction you are interested in, then clicking on the "Register" button.
6. What are the auction "Terms of Sale"?
These vary with each individual auction. Specific terms and conditions may be found by clicking on the auction you are interested in. The "Terms of Sale" are prominently displayed.
7. What type of Deposit/Downpayment do I need?
Downpayments are due IMMEDIATELY following the auction. The acceptable form of deposit varies with each auction. The terms and method of payment requirements can be found under each specific auction on our website under "Terms of Sale."
8. What is the cost for registration?
There is no cost for registration. Just bring your government issued I.D., and an acceptable form of deposit (in the event you are the successful bidder!).
9. What do you mean by "Good Check"?
Well, most importantly, the check you write must be drawn on an account where you have adequate funds to cover it (Believe me... You don't want to give an attorney a bad check!). For properties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, for us to consider a check "good", the check must be written by a Virginia resident on a Virginia bank account (there must be a branch(es) in the state). We will not accept checks from out-of-state buyer's or banks. Out-of-state buyer's will need cash (when acceptable) or certified funds.
10. What is the Starting Bid or Opening Bid?
IF there is a starting bid, it will be stated in the auction listing and advertisements. Usually, there is no stated opening/starting bid amount. During the live auction, the auctioneer will begin calling at a certain price, then will lower this asking amount until someone raises their bidder card. At that point, the opening bid has been determined and the bid amounts increase from there until the highest bidder has been determined.
11. What is the Seller's Reserve Price?
This amount is never disclosed to interested bidders. This minimum price is held in strict confidence between the Seller and Auction Firm (If you were the Seller, would you want us to tell people the lowest price you'd consider, when you've hired the auction firm to sell it for as MUCH as possible?). As a Buyer, you should understand the auction firm is not interested in marketing properties where the Seller is unreasonable in their expectations (simply put, it's a waste of everyone's time, money, and efforts). We successfully sell over 90% of our auction properties.
12. Will there be an Open House Preview?
For General Real Estate Auctions of improved properties, there is usually 1 or 2 open house preview dates scheduled. They will be stated in each specific auction description on our website and in our media advertisements. Raw land is available for inspection at the interested buyer's convenience. Tax Delinquent improved real estate is NEVER open for inspection.
13. Can I make an offer to buy prior to the auction?
You can!... However, the Seller is usually set on seeing the property taken through the auction process to determine true market value. We are always willing to present pre-auction offers. Ultimately, the decision to sell is up to the owner.
14. Must I attend the auction in-person, or can I bid online?
This will depend on the structure for each individual auction. Some auctions are live, in-person only auctions. Others may be strictly on-line only auctions. Yet, others may be live and on-line simulcast auctions (Where you can bid online, or attend in person... Your choice!). Ultimately, it will depend on the desires of the Seller, the type of property being sold, and the availability of good internet connectivity. The auction listing for each specific auction will let you know if on-line bidding is available for that sale.
15. How do I sign up for Auction Alerts?
Simple!... Just go to our home page and sign up for our email list! We highly encourage you to download our App to your iPhone or Android device! This is the BEST method to keep up with current auctions, on-line bidding, auction news, and more! *We do NOT share our in-house mailing list with other auction/marketing companies or firms. You will only be hearing from us when we have auctions or good news to share!*
16. What happens to the mortgage/trust/liens on the property?
While all properties are sold "As-Is", without guarantees or warranties of any kind, the Seller is contractually obligated to provide the Buyer with "Clear, Marketable Title... Free from any Liens or Encumbrances". If there is an existing mortgage/trust on the property, that will be paid off at final closing of the sale (along with any other fees due, or delinquent; like HOA fees, real estate taxes, etc.).
Tax Delinquent Auction Questions:
1. Why are these properties being sold At Auction?
Every jurisdiction sells properties that are years behind in the payment of County/City/Town real estate taxes. This is how they recover back taxes owed.
2. What are the appraised or tax assessed values of these properties?
The most recent tax assessments &/or appraisals can be found in the "Documents" section under each specific auction. Additional information may be found on the County/City/Town online GIS system.
3. Does the property have an easement or right-of-way?
Unless a property has direct road frontage, we don't know. Always do your due diligence when researching the potential purchase of a property. Many people believe a property cannot legally be "land locked". This is false. Any recorded easements, or right-of-ways can usually be found in the local courthouse recordation department.
4. Is the acreage or square footage exact?
We don't know. The acreage, or square footage shown is derived from the public record. Properties are not typically surveyed prior to auction (only in very rare circumstances, or for special/exceptional properties). The property sizes are always "+/-" the amount shown.
5. What is the exact location of the property?
Oftentimes, properties being sold do NOT have a physical address attached to them. In these cases, we provide the physical address of the closest improved property (for reference purposes only - to allow you to locate the property being sold). This information can be found under "Documents" for each specific auction.
6. Will the lot perk? Is it buildable??
We don't know. We do NOT conduct perk testing on properties being sold. Interested bidders are permitted to go upon these properties for the purpose of making their own "inspections". If a perk test has been done in the past, you can oftentimes find this information recorded in the county/city Health Department records. All properties sell "As-Is" with no guarantees of any kind.
7. Where and How do I register for the auction?
You can register at the auction location (or on our website, if online bidding is available). We recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the auction start time. You will need a government issued ID for registration purposes. There is no fee to register.
8. What type of Deposit/Downpayment funds will I need?
This differs depending upon the locality and the requirements of the Special Commissioner appointed by the Court. Typically, personal checks and certified funds are accepted. Cash is accepted by some, and not by others. The acceptable forms of downpayment are listed in each specific auction posting on our website under "Terms of Sale."
9. What is the opening bid amount?
There is no specific opening bid requirement. Most tax-delinquent sales are subject to the approval of the Circuit Court Judge. The opening bid amount is, basically, irrelevant. It's the high/final bid amount that will be presented to the judge for approval. The auctioneer will typically start asking for a certain price and will drop that asking price until someone starts the bidding. The bid amounts will increase from that point until a high bid amount is determined. This is the amount that will be presented to the Court for consideration.
10. What happens if the Court does not approve the sale?
In the event the sale is not confirmed by the Circuit Court Judge, your deposit will be refunded in full, and the property will likely be put back up for auction at the next scheduled tax delinquent auction.
11. What is the amount of the back taxes owed?
We don't know. There's not only back taxes owed, but penalties and interest, fees incurred by the Special Commissioner and auction firm, along with other charges which may have also accrued. From a buyer's perspective, the amount owed is irrelevant. Frequently, properties sell (and are approved by the court) for a price much less than the amount of taxes/fees owed. Other times, the value of the property is exponentially higher than the fees owed. Properties must bring a "reasonable price" in relation to value in order to be approved by the Court.
12. Can I buy the property before the auction for the back taxes amount?
No. It is the fiduciary responsibility of all parties involved to obtain the highest price possible for each property. This is why it is being sold at auction, through the competitive bidding process. You will need to attend the auction, or have someone attend/bid for you at the auction in order to purchase a property.
13. What is the terrain of the property? Does it have water frontage??
We do not survey, or walk each property in its entirety. The online GIS system for each locality is a wealth of information. You can typically get plat overviews, aerial photos, and even property contours. Of course, it's always best to make your own in-person inspection of the property before bidding. Always rely upon your own due diligence!
14. What type of Deed will I be getting if I buy the property?
The successful Purchaser will receive a Special Warranty Deed. The Purchaser will get clean, clear title; free from all judgments, liens, and back taxes.
15. Are these tax delinquent properties sold "Absolute" or with "Reserve"?
Tax delinquent properties are never sold Absolute (to the highest bidder, regardless of price). All high bid amounts are presented to the Circuit Court for approval.
16. Can the owner of record "Redeem" the property prior to the auction?
Yes. If this occurs, we will update our website to indicate the property has been "Redeemed" or "Removed" from the auction.
17. What if there is a mortgage/trust or other liens on the property?
Local real estate tax liens take precedence over ALL other liens, trusts, and judgments. If a mortgage/trust exists, the lender must attend the auction to protect their interests (as do other lien holders). Again, the Buyer will be getting clear, marketable title by Special Warranty Deed... Free from all liens, encumbrances, and back taxes.
18. Where can I find a list of the properties being sold?
Each individual auction has a listing of all properties being offered. Just click on the auction(s) you're interested in and a list of the properties will be shown. You can find details for each parcel (tax maps, plats, assessments, etc.) by clicking on the "Documents" tab for that auction.
19. Can I go inside a tax delinquent house being put up for auction?
No! The Special Commissioner and county/city jurisdiction does not allow interested bidders to go upon improved real estate. If a property is vacant, you may make an exterior inspection at your own risk. If it is occupied, you are not authorized to go upon the property.