When a home in New Jersey goes into foreclosure, the lender files with the superior court in their county to gain back ownership of the property to sell back. These properties are sold at an auction that is called a “sheriff sale”.
Properties that are to be sold at a sheriff’s sale are posted in at least two major newspapers a few weeks before the auction is held. Listings of future schedules sheriff sales are also usually posted in the municipal office where the auction will be held and often on the website for that municipality. Potential buyers are “not” allowed to inspect the property before placing any bids. There is a very big “buyer beware” warning for those who wish to purchase a property as a sheriff’s sale, because you don’t fully know what you’re getting into. A sheriff’s sale can be canceled at any time if the house if paid off by the owner or if other legal actions happen. Potential buyers should check often to see it the sale is still live.
The sheriff’s sale usually occurs at the office or on the steps of the courthouse in that county. All bids must be done in person. No mail in or sealed bids are accepted at the auction. In most counties, biding will start at increments of $100. Bidding will then continue in $1000 increments until the highest bidder wins. The winner must pay 20% of the final price up front as a deposit in cash, certified check or a money order. They then have 30 days to pay the rest of the price off. If a petition or a bankruptcy is filed after the sale occurs, the purchaser’s deposit will not be returned to the purchaser. The Sheriff will hold the deposited money until further instructions are given.
If the purchaser is unable to come up with the rest of the money by the end of the 30 days, then the property is put back up for auction and the deposit is kept by the court as liquidated damages. There is a 10 day redemption period following the sale where the original homeowner has the chance to file for an objection or redemption. If this happens, the winning bidder is refunded their money. If nothing has happened after this 10 day period, the winning bidder may then pay the remaining balance and obtain the deed.
It is the buyer’s responsibility to make legal arrangements to evict any current occupants of the house, and to record the deed at the clerk’s office. Any surplus funds left over after all the proceedings have ended will be awarded to the homeowner. Usually the buyer must inquire about these funds beforehand.