Phantom sale at the steps > "Back to bank" but where was the auction?!

There was some fun and games at the courthouse steps today (4/26/11) in Marin County. A nice Mill Valley property with ample equity (several hundred thousand $$$ above full debt) was sold “back to the bene” at the opening bid of $445K (a full debt bid) on the “original” auction date. Trouble is that many Marin steps vets, including yours truly, were present at the appointed place/time with checks in hand and ready to bid on the DOT… but no auctioneer showed. Huh? Yep, we were there on time … and in my case 10 min early, yet no auctioneer (a.k.a. crier) made an appearance. When it was some 20 min past auction time (3 p.m.), we began to do our checks only to find that the property (DOT) had been posted as having been sold to the bank (beneficiary) at the opening bid. I can assure you that several of us were prepared to bid this property “up” … likely at least $100K over the opening bid.

Naturally we were all a bit miffed to learn the DOT (a 1st) had been mysteriously sold. Several of us got on the phone with the auction company (won’t name it, but co. goes by the initials PP). They claimed that their auctioneer made an appearance and cried the sale at the scheduled place and time. The auctioneer stated that no one was present, hence it went “back to the bene.” Turns out this was the first day on the job for this particular crier. So, rather than ascribe nefarious motives behind this mystery sale, we suspect he simply went to the wrong venue to conduct the auction. But, for now, PP is claiming that the sale was done properly. We (investors) all huddled up and are willing to provide affidavits stating that 3 investors were present 10 minutes before 3 p.m. and another group arrived on time or one or two minutes before the scheduled sale. I hope PP will get together with the Trustee (Cal-Western Recon) and the lender (Wells Fargo) and admit their mistake and rescind this sale … and bring it back to the steps if necessary. When you think about it, the homeowner is also getting slammed by this phantom sale. There was ample equity over the full debt owed on the foreclosing loan. The homeowner had no other recorded liens/debts and hence he would have been entitled to any “overage” ($$ amt above full debt) that would have come from a competitive steps bid. It will be interesting to see whether PP does the right thing? I suspect they will. There were too many witness to play a game on this one.

If someone reached out to the homeowner and offered to provide such an affidavit, and they in turn called the trustee, I bet that sale would be rescinded and rescheduled immediately.

Thanks Sean … it may come to that (affidavits) but I’m hoping the responsible parties will take corrective action. I called RPP this morning and they referred me to the Trustee > Cal-Western Recon. I spoke with a supervisor about this instance and she said “the sale would stand” (back to bank at opening bid) as she had no notes in the system to indicate that there was any impropriety. I was surprised (but not shocked) that RPP had apparently failed to explain the SNAFU to Cal-Western Recon so that the sale could be rescinded/rescheduled. I gave the Cal-Western Recon supervisor the full backstory and she indicated that she would go back to RPP to get their version. Stay tuned.