Jim Gibson

Atlanta's Luxury Home Broker, Realtor

Cell: 770.605.2080


Atlanta, Georgia USA

Marketing Your Atlanta Property World Wide

Local Hands With Global Reach

Foreclosure at the courthouse steps - always the first Tuesday of each month in Georgia. Note, it is normal for 4-5 auctions to take place at the same time - yes, this is very confusing to follow!

It Begins with 4 weeks of legal notice given in the “legal organ” of the county - for example, in Gwinnett, it’s the Gwinnett Daily Post on Thursdays - in Cobb County it’s the Marietta Daily Journal

The following took place January 7, 2003 (I’ve been going to the steps since 1999) featuring a friend of mine who frequented the courthouse steps along with me while I am documenting the process. This process is not for the amateur as you can make the wrong bid, you can be bidding on a junior lien, you may have title issues and the IRS may have a hand in the deal as well. I can tell you war stories a plenty. However, I can tell you many successes as well - mine included. A well prepared investor can make a lot of money in this process. If you are a “civilian” (i.e. not an investor), I would strongly suggest you retain me to help you through the process. My brokerage fee is 10% but it could prevent you from attending a $200,000 ”seminar”.

Sometimes a nice day and still only a few show up. Having an audience is not a requirement. The lender will enter the first bid. No other bids means the property is bought by the lender.

Just another foreclosure Tuesday at the steps!

Uncomfortable or not. Hard to see or hear. It doesn’t matter. The requirement is for the property to be “called” on the courthouse steps - it is not a requirement to have an audience.

Most of the time, there is a crowd. Generally speaking, the opening bid is by the lender with ALL that is owed no property. Unless opening bid is less than 70% of value, there will probably not be no other bidders and the lender will own the property at that point.

Sometimes the closing office is more sparse.

High bid takes it and into the closing office of the attorney - a table in the courthouse cafeteria.

Bring your cashiers checks with you as closing is immediately after the bidding - all cashiers checks - no financing allowed.

A single page document is prepared to show that you have purchased the house.

This is it - the successful bidder owns the house. Yep, this is your closing document with all the bids recorded on the sheet.

Time to go see what you bought.... Generally speaking, this will be the first time you have had opportunity to get inside the house. Folks being foreclosed on don't like "looky-loo's" and only about 12% of properties scheduled for foreclosure are listed. Looking at the outside will help you decide how the inside may be but not always. I know of one house with a beautiful outside but a kitchen fire nearly gutted that area and there were no outside indicators. We had talked to the neighbors and found out about the fire and did not bid. Unfortunately the investor who purchased it, did not learn of the fire until he got inside after his successful bid.

First you have to break in. No keys are ever provided to the purchaser. In this case all windows were screwed shut - even 2nd floor. Entry is generally easier than this.

OK, so we had to use the "master key". Caution, Neighborhood Watch Groups take a dim view of this method. Yep, the cops were called on us. But it was OUR house at that point..

Hint: Garage door windows are the cheapest to replace.

Pleasant (and extremely unusual) surprise - we got in and it was a NICE house in nearly perfect condition.

Needed very little work. However, don’t EVER plan on that.

Even new carpet! WOW! This never happens!

This house worked out very nice. We had not been inside prior to bidding and our bid was considering the fact that the NORMAL foreclosure house has a lot of trash throughout, things missing, things broken intentionally by a (now prior) owner who got mad at a lender who was foreclosing on the house he wasn't paying for. There is frequently cement in the drains, wires cut, holes in the walls. There is a 99% certainty that you will have to paint and carpet at least. Today, we got VERY lucky.

And.... Sometimes they look like this! The FRONT of the house looked nice - don’t ever assume!

A Day At The Courthouse Steps