Northern Virginia Realtors

Foreclosure Auctions on the Courthouse Steps: Can I play?


foreclosures in Fairfax County

Tom: I was headed home to Greenbriar and cut through the Fairfax County courthouse complex just for grins, and  saw folks gathering in a huddle on the landing at the top of the courthouse steps.

Is that where they have the foreclosure auctions?

Steve: Yes Tom, believe it or not, no matter what the weather the sales will happen.... and it was nasty cold today. The attorney was dressed like a gold miner headed for the Klondike.

In Virginia which is a deed of trust state, the attorney for the trustee shows up at the advertised time and says something to the affect of  "This is the trustees sale being held on behalf of trustee John Jones by the firm of Black and Decker.

I have 5 properties on the list for today and they are as follows...and he reads them off.

There was nothing for sale near Greenbriar today, by the way.

Tom: Can I go there and bid myself?

forclosures in Fairfax county
Steve: Yes Tom but this is a serious business and there is much risk. You really better know home values accurately or you will get toasted....Zillow estimates ain't gonna fly....There are almost no regular folks seeking a bargain on a personal residence there.

Unless you have a lot of real estate experience and money that you can afford to lose, my advice is that you go and watch and possibly try to apprentice yourself or be a helper to some of the people that go there regularly.

foreclosures in Fairfax County

 In our area, you need to show up with around $20,000 in cashiers checks or 10% of
what you plan to bid.
 If you win, you give the money to the attorney right there and have the ability to close the transaction with the rest of the money in 15 days.

There is generally no opportunity to inspect the interior of the properties, since they are occupied by unhappy homeowners who are losing their residences to foreclosure and there are no lock boxes with access to Realtors (at least here there aren't)

Tom: If I can't see the home, how do I know what I should pay for it?

forclosures in Fairfax countySteve: Well Tom, that is the tough part. If you are going to attempt to buy the home, fix it up and sell it quickly (this is called flipping)

You have to evict the people living there, carry the home with utilities, insurance and taxes until you can get it sold and  repair whatever happens to be wrong with it.

Then sell it and still make a profit. Even people who are experienced can take a bad hit.

 That is why you need to study the process and ally yourself  with someone who can teach you ....but you should be prepared to bring some effort to the table to assist whoever is going to be your mentor...provide either money, research or labor. The folks who do this regularly have earned their battle scars and you will have to pay your dues as well, unless you have money to burn and plenty of time to invest.

forclosures in Fairfax county

 There is so much more to say about this that cannot be said here. There are courses
you can buy that give you guidance, or you can do as I suggested and go hang out and watch and build a relationship with someone who can help you learn the process.

You should probably do both all you can and be an apprentice.

It is a tough business but obviously there is opportunity, or no one would do it.

Have fun.


Homes in Northern VA


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Why pay more and get less when selling your home? Jan and Steve Bachman of RE/MAX Gateway use professional photographers, create interactive photo floor plans, print full color brochures, and make an individual property website for your listing that goes out to 40+ public real estate search sites including, Trulia, Zillow etc.


We also create a custom photo tour that is sent to other agents and prospective buyers.



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Jan and Steve Bachman are full time Realtors® with RE/MAX, specializing in Homes for Sale in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington Counties.



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Comment balloon 4 commentsSteve and Jan Bachman • January 04 2010 06:38PM
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