How to Bid at a County Sales Auction

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If you have plans to bid on a home at a county or city sales auction, a certain process must occur for you to gain rights to the property. Below, we have outlined what occurs at a county sales auction, including the period following the actual bidding process.

How to Bid at a County Sales Auction


1. The Courthouse Sale

Most county sales auctions occur on the steps of the county courthouse or at another location designated by the Clerk of the Court. During the auction, the auctioneer starts the sale at a pre-determined price that covers any back taxes and foreclosure costs. If you are in attendance at the auction, you can raise this initial bid and anyone else in attendance can do the same, just like at a traditional auction.Once the last bid is raised, the auctioneer announces the winner. If you win the auction, you must submit a 5% deposit on your bid or $750.00, whichever is greater. This deposit must be in the form of certified funds or cash.

2. Upset Bid Period

If you win the county sales auction, you are not necessarily guaranteed rights to the property because an “upset bid” period lasts for 10 days following the sale. Any party with interest in the property can file an upset bid that is at least 5% or $750 greater than the previous bid. This process can occur at any point during this 10-day period until the price gets to a point where no one has a desire to raise the selling price further. Each time an upset bid is placed, the 1- day upset bid period starts over.

3. Bid Closing Period

Once no further bids have been raised for a full 10 days, the bidding process concludes, and the final winning bidder is established. At this time, the bid amount is required to purchase the property, and you have a period of two to three weeks to make this payment and guarantee the sale. If you were the winning bidder at the courthouse sale, your bid deposit is applied to the total price of the sale. If you won by upset bid, the full bid amount will be required, and the clerk will later refund your bid deposit in full.

4. Sale Confirmation

Once you submit your bid money, a Motion for Confirmation of Sale will be filed with the court. This process typically takes 10 days to complete, and once the Court confirms the sale, you own the rights to the property. 

5. Commissioner’s Deed

After the sale is confirmed and recorded by the Court, you receive the Commissioner’s Deed to the property. Expect to receive this document within the week after the confirmation of the sale takes place. Once you obtain this document, it is your responsibility to record the deed with the County Registrar as soon as possible.