How to Purchase a Home at Sheriff's Sale

How to Purchase a Home at Sheriff's Sale
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After a foreclosure, a home is often put up for a public auction, also known as a sheriff's sale. Homes can sometimes be purchased for much less than their value during these sales. Many times, the houses have major problems that make them undesirable. By preparing yourself ahead of time, you can successfully purchase a home at sheriff's sale.

Read the classified section of the local newspaper to find out where and when the sheriff's sales are in the area where you'd like to purchase a home. If you do not have access to the local newspaper, try calling the town clerk's office, or a real estate agent.

Inspect the property in advance of the sale. Acquire a checklist from an inspection company or see the home inspection book listed in the Resources section. You also can develop your own.

Find comparative market assessments for similar homes to the home that you are considering. Evaluate whether the price set at the sheriff's sale is a good buy or not, taking into consideration any major repairs that may be needed.

Pay for a title search before the sale. While this will cost several hundred dollars, it will save you time, money and stress to know whether there are any liens on the house before you bid.

Find out how much money you will need for a deposit, and how much the starting bid will be for the home. You must have a cashier's check or a bank check for the amount of the deposit, and adequate funding for the amount of the final bidding price if you win the auction.

Arrive early to the sheriff's sale, and pay close attention. The bidding can go very quickly.


  • Call the day before the sale to be sure that the auction is still being held as planned. Occasionally they are postponed or canceled. Sometimes a property is withdrawn.


  • Do not go over your budgeted amount during the bidding.