County clerk offers on-line auction option
The great American humorist Art Buchwald once said, "Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we have," which is a a good reason to stop lamenting about the real estate market and do something about it. If you’ve got a couple of extra bucks and want to start doing something with the only times we have available to us, check out the on-line auction option affiliated with the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Office.
To locate scheduled on-line foreclosure auctions as well as other foreclosure information, log on to the county clerk’s new Web site, www.clerkofcircuitcourt.com. The site gives you the ability to bring up a foreclosure calendar for the current month and one or two more months in advance. The calendar is organized by the case number of the foreclosure action with the on-line sales conveniently highlighted in green.
If you hover over the number it will give you a brief synopsis of the property in question, or you can click on the number which opens up more details on the property including foreclosure filing history, dollar amount, the bank or lending institution bringing the action as well as judges and attorneys involved. It does not, however, give you the actual property address but it does provide the case number and a link to the on-line auction site.
The on-line auction site will provide the auctions available on specific days, as well as information about procedures for bidding on a property. Individuals who may be interested in bidding need to register on the site prior to bidding and provide the appropriate deposit. This site does provide the address of the property the judgment amount, assessed value, date and time when the auction will begin and the parcel ID number which hyper-links to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s office Web site. On the property appraiser’s Web site, you can research the entire history of the property including prior sales, taxes, age, size, and of course, previous owners’ names.
Now before you get too excited about your new venture, remember that most of the properties up for auction are ultimately bought back by the bank or lending institution holding the liens on the property. This is because the outstanding debt plus fees, taxes and any other liens on the property are usually more than the current market value.
If you spot a property you’re interested in which is taken back by the bank at auction, you can attempt to contact the bank for purchase information. This is easier said than done since banks have a complicated bureaucracy made even more complicated by the increased numbers of foreclosures they’re experiencing. If you are tenacious, you’ll eventually get to the right person or department or to a real estate broker who is handling the transaction for the bank, but this may take a monumental degree of patience.
I found an interesting statistical recap while I was on the county’s Web site, which will help you get perspective on the foreclosure market we’re in. The Twelfth Judicial Circuit, which includes Manatee, Sarasota and Desoto counties has experienced a 628 percent increase in mortgage foreclosures during the last three calendar years: 2006, 2007 and 2008. It goes on to say that the Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice areas were 11th in foreclosure filings among the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas in 2008 and that economists project the upward trend in foreclosures to continue throughout 2009.
If the above numbers don’t get your attention, I don’t know what will. These are, after all, the only times we have and there are opportunities galore with plenty of people still making money. Maybe you can be one of them.