My First Time . . . At a Courthouse Auction Trustee Sale

My First Time . . . At a Courthouse Auction Trustee Sale

Have you ever been to the County Courthouse around lunch time and seen a number of people loitering out front?  I’ve been there; as an attorney, I often attended early afternoon sessions at the Orange County Courthouse but never gave much thought to those milling around out front just around lunchtime.

Here in Orange County, we have an incredible number of notice of defaults and trustee sales occurring.

I’ve been aware of the methodology; a Notice of Default is filed after the owner fails to make several mortgage payments, as soon as 90 days after that, the lender/trustee can file a Notice of Trustee Sale and then sell the house three weeks later.

Orange County Trustee Sale

It sounds pretty straightforward, but it just doesn’t always work that way.

Many times, I’ve had the trustee sale put on hold while I was in the process of negotiating a short sale.  Even then, there was no reason for me to attend a trustee sale at the courthouse; all of the communications were by phone or in writing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to actually attend the Trustee Sale at the Santa Ana Courthouse and see first hand what happens when somebody buys at auction or a house becomes an REO (Real Estate Owned).

An REO means that the lender has basically bought the house on which it had a mortgage back from itself and now owns the property.

The first thing I noticed was that there were a number of casually dressed people sitting and standing around the front of the courthouse, as the auction takes place at the entrance to the Courthhouse, not inside.  

Orange County Trustee Auction Sale

About 12:17pm. the auctioneer called out that she was about to begin the day’s auction. I’m not sure what I expected, but the woman in jeans and a grey t-shirt with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, taking an occasional sip from her cup was not what I would have pictured.  She began with a long list of the sales that had been canceled or postponed.  These occur for several reasons – bankruptcy, loan modification, or perhaps a real estate broker, like me, is working on a short sale and asks the lender to postpone the sale.

Then, the auction began.  There were numerous people on their cell phones whispering to people on the other end as they had to make rapid decisions about whether or not they would up their bids.  People increasing bids by a penny or $100 or occasionally by several thousand dollars.

Sometimes, no bid would be made, and the auctioneer would declare the property was sold back to the bank.

The whole process is very efficient, and it’s obvious that some of the bidders there do this as a full time job.

The house we were there to bid on ended up being postponed just after noon, so we didn’t get to make a bid, but I really enjoyed my first time.

Have you even been to an auction on the courthouse steps?  Have you considered buying a foreclosure?

If you have questions about either, give me a call at 714-319-9751 or e-mail Me!

Click for a free list of Orange County foreclosures or a free list of Orange County short sales or e-mail Me!


About the author: Christine Donovan is a California Residential Real Estate Broker with experience in assisting clients buy and sell residential real estate.

Are you upside down in your home? Is it worth less than you owe? Are you concerned about making your mortgage payment? Contact me at or 714-319-9751 to discuss your options.

Want to buy a home or to list your property for sale in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach or Orange County? Contact me at or 714-319-9751 to learn about my system which will make your buying and selling experience easier.

Disclaimer: All information in this blog is deemed reliable but is subject to change at any time and is not guaranteed to be accurate nor are there any warantees either express or implied. This blog is not intended to offer any legal, tax or other advice.

Click Orange County homes for saleto view all OC homes for sale. Copyright © 2009 by Christine Donovan, All Rights Reserved. Single Family Home versus Condo – Which One is Right for You?


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