Online Real Estate Auctions: The Devil Is In the Details

At Calkins Law Firm the legal issues surrounding real estate are a solid part of our collective skillset. Unfortunately folks aren't always seeking legal advice prior to bidding and winning in online real estate auctions. But getting a professional's eyes on the details is key to making a sound purchase and not getting caught up in tangled legalities.

Real Troubles in Real Estate Auctions

Lately, we've seen a trend - increasing calls from prospective clients who have purchased real estate in an online auction and are unhappy with the outcome. For various reasons, they didn't get what they were hoping for. 

One common scenario is that after the purchase is made, a buyer doesn't think that their new property is worth what they paid. We're seeing this happen a lot with folks who are purchasing from online foreclosure auctions. When they are hit with the property tax bill, buyers are having a hard time squaring their new property with its listed value. 

After winning a bid, another prospective client was surprised to find that they were being expected to pay a portion of the back taxes. To this buyer's knowledge the prior lender had reportedly already paid the sum. 

Online real estate auction winners are asking us: 

  • Could I back out of the purchase agreement and get my money back? 
  • Is there a way to avoid paying the balance due if the property is overvalued?
  • Do I have to pay prior, unpaid tax amounts that weren't disclosed?

Online real estate auctions could make the transaction seem simpler than what it truly is. But at Calkins Law Firm we know that the intricacies of these agreements cannot be overlooked prior to purchase. Ideally, we like to work with clients to be sure that a deal is in their best interests. 

But we also make ourselves available to prospective clients after purchasing, and gladly research what their rights, obligations, and liabilities actually are in each unique case. We help these buyers find any available remedies, and if at all possible we can help them to extricate themselves from a situation that they find to be wholly unsatisfactory.

Fine Print Matters

At the end of the day, it's invariably true that the devil is in the details. When you're planning to bid in an online real estate auction the fine print - terms and conditions of the auction sale - can and does matter and is often determinative of the outcome. Reading through these terms and understanding their impact is key to a positive experience and an end result that works for you.

This is why we encourage anyone who is considering purchasing real estate property by way of an online auction to very carefully review terms and conditions of the auction before ever bidding. But we understand that oftentimes the language can be bogged down with jargon and unfamiliar terms. That's why consulting with seasoned real estate legal counsel is so important, and especially so if you have lingering questions.

Partner for Success

Engaging in online real estate auctions may not initially seem to be very risky, but as we've seen time and again, unintended consequences can be hard to work through. Calkins Law Firm has vast real estate law experience, and we are reliably adept when it comes to deciphering fine print and legalese. We are also happy to help would-be buyers understand exactly what the auction sale involves, helping them avoid disappointments along the way. Reach out to learn more and to get some real-world advice about navigating online real estate auctions. And if you've already purchased and are finding yourself stuck, well we can often help there too - get in touch today!

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Benjamin Calkins

Benjamin Calkins

Ben Calkins is a well-educated, top-rated, and highly experienced business law attorney.

Ben Calkins is an honors graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School. After law school, he clerked for a Federal Judge before joining one of the World’s largest law firms, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Mr. Calkins has also worked at, and been a partner in, several of the most prominent “old style law firms” in the World.