The Tampa Times has been running a series of stories that highlight a very troubling dynamic that is occurring with foreclosure auctions in Pinellas County, and perhaps statewide. “Phantom Foreclosures” are popping onto existing foreclosure dockets and leading even sophisticated real estate professionals into making potentially catastrophic errors.
The lesson here is simple: BUYER BEWARE of "phantom foreclosures".
This is especially true when you’re dealing with auctions that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Lawyer Matt Weidner, who has been involved in many Tampa Bay foreclosures, called the condo case “unprecedented.” While Skelton’s company might originally have overpaid for the condo, Weidner said, he was able to come out far ahead in the end.
Weidner said a $150 title search would have revealed the pending bank foreclosure and presumably kept the Houdes from bidding $458,000. “No way would he imagine such a windfall,” Weidner said “but the level of machinations to execute this plan is breathtaking.”
“Auctions are not for amateurs,” he said. “I get a phone call once a week from somebody who went to a seminar, or saw a buddy do it and the stories are pretty sad. I’ve had people take their retirement income and throw it at one of the auctions. But the psychology of these investors is that this is a county auction and surely it must be legitimate and simple and so I’ll bid.”
A $150 title search would have revealed the pending bank foreclosure and presumably kept the Houdes from bidding $458,000.
Read the motion at the heart of this issue. (click below to read the motion)