The Indiana Sheriff Sale: What Happens to Homes Sold in Indiana Sheriff Sales?

March 3, 2015

At our Central Indiana bankruptcy office, many of our clients set up a free consultation because they have a sheriff sale scheduled on their house.   We stop many sheriff sales every year – sometimes a month before and sometimes minutes before.  We stop sheriff sales all through Indianapolis and the surrounding area.   We have stopped sheriff sales before in several Indiana counties.  A sheriff sale can be a mystery to those who have not experienced it, but the Indiana sheriff sale process is very simple.  Let’s discuss what CAUSES a sheriff sale and what HAPPENS at the Indiana sheriff sale.

A sheriff sale is basically the end result of defaults on mortgages payments.  When a homeowner defaults on his or her mortgage, the mortgage lender files a complaint for mortgage foreclosure in county court, civil division.  After all the parties have been notified, the court allows them time to “answer” the complaint.  The homeowner, usually through their attorney, can challenge the charges if they have been paying their mortgage payment as agreed to the lender.  In our experience, many homeowners will end up not answering the mortgage foreclosure suit for whatever reason.  If the homeowner answers, usually a trial is set or a motion for summary judgment procedure will ensue.

At the time of the complaint, the homeowners can also ask for a settlement conference.  It is important to note that answering the lawsuit (denying the claims) is NOT the same as requesting a settlement conference.  After judgment is entered in favor of the mortgage lender, the judge will issue an order for foreclosure and the home or real estate in question will be allowed to proceed to the sheriff sale process.  The attorney for the lender will file a praeipe with the court, and this will command the sheriff to appraise, advertise, and auction the real estate.

The sheriff generally gets three appraisals for the property which are taken only from an exterior inspection of the real estate.  After obtaining the appraisals, the sheriff will schedule the property for sale and advertise the property.  The properties are usually listed on websites like SRI Incorporated.  At the sheriff’s sale which is usually held at the sheriff’s office, bidders usually do not need to pre-register, but they do need to arrive to the sale about 30 minutes prior to its scheduled start time and the must be able to meet the terms of the sale (be able to pay any tax liens, etc.) Keep in mind that some properties can be withdrawn before the sheriff sale and this generally happens if the homeowner files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Some counties may vary on proof of availability of funds.

Upon arrival at the Indiana sheriff’s sale, bidders are given a document that lists all the real estate that will be auctioned.  For each property up for auction, a minimum bid is listed.  Bidders must start above that price or the property will be awarded back to the lender.  In Indiana, there are several companies like SRI Incorporated that act as the auctioneer.  To begin the auction the auctioneer greets the bidders with general terms of the sheriff sale and then the bidding begins.  Generally, auctions go very quickly and do not last very long.

If a property is sold at a sheriff’s sale, a judge will issue a decision confirming the sale and orders the distribution of proceeds by the sheriff’s office.  The sheriff is responsible for distributing the funds and the issue of the deed to the new property owner.  If the property is not sold at the sheriff sale, it can go back and be re-advertised and re-auctioned.

Remember, that a sheriff sale can be stopped by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but it must be filed BEFORE the date of the sheriff sale (before it is conducted).  If you have questions, just give our office a call and set up a free consultation with Indianapolis Bankruptcy Attorney John Bymaster.

-Indianapolis and All-Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney John Bymaster

Bymaster Bankruptcy Law Offices – 317-769-2244

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