I have been watching the bidding habits at Sheriff’s Sales lately. The first thing I noticed was that I thought some of the appraisals were a bit optimistic. Then, I realized that Sheriff’s Sales sale prices are higher than market. Yep, read that one again. Sheriff’s sale prices are higher than market.
So, who are these lucky bidders who are paying more than appraised value and well above market rate for these houses? Why, the mortgage companies, of course!
The most extreme example is a case I was watching where the property was appraised at a whopping $16,000 — probably a pretty fair price, actually. That means bidding opened at around $11,000. The mortgage company wound up with it — for $87,000+. No, that is not a typo. That is extraordinary, but I am seeing fairly regularly the major mortgage companies bidding up to the total amount of their judgments, even if that is more than the property is worth.
Without getting into why on Earth these companies are doing this, to me, as a consumer lawyer this means two things:
1. No potential for additional liability against the former home owner; and
2. The possibility that if the mortgage company has improperly padded their judgment amount (and yes, I think it has happened), then, the home owner might be able to force the mortgage company to actually kick back a little cash — would kind of like to try this actually.