Monday, August 23, 2010

What is a foreclosure really like on the courthouse steps?

Foreclosures are a hot topic these days but have you ever actually been on the courthouse steps while they auction off someone's home? Probably not.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
A moderate group of about 12 people were standing or sitting in various spots on the steps of the civic center building in Santa Cruz, California. Nearly everyone looked like they shopped for clothes at Eddie Bauer (except one lady who looked just a bit unique). As the minutes went buy it was clear that most of these people knew each other and exchanged witty banter back and forth as the court clerk read off the list of properties that would presented today. The mood was lighthearted and as warm as the weather.

Lots of foreclosed homes but then again, maybe not...
The clerk reads the list quickly and clearly of everything on the docket for today. Those are homes all scheduled to be auctioned, but wait! They're not all really being auctioned. What!? Why?

Well, as she reads through all the properties not being auctioned today some interesting reasons are offered such as "bankruptcy" and my personal favorite "lender discretion". Bankruptcy I understand, but lender discretion? Does that indicate a banker with a heart? of course not silly reader, bankers are blood-sucking vampires as anyone knows. The discretion in this case, while unexplained, was probably a private money lender willing to "work a deal". Then again, who knows.

In the end, after reading off the list of about 50 properties we actually have two...yes 2...actual properties being sold at auction.

There's a sucker born every minute....
Because I'm such a believer in the mass media and all their fine reporting on the profits to be made in foreclosures, I'm really excited about the prospects of what I can buy. I've actually got my checkbook in the car (just by chance) ready to buy that deal of a lifetime.

Up first is...drumroll...a mobile home for a mere $89,250. Really?! No land, no rights, just an oversized camper? Argh!!! Up next, an actual house! Cool! But, the other buyers all laugh as the address is read by the clerk. It's a run down dump in a location slightly better than prison. So I waited on the steps for nothing?

No, but I thought it would be fun to convey that the media portrayal of heated sales of fine homes is a bit off. This is just one auction of thousands around the country. Sure, many fine homes have been sold in both Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. There's a home in Los Altos Hills heading to the steps that is worth about $2 million. However, the lesson I offer is that foreclosures are not all they're cracked up to be.

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