As sheriff sales resume in Philadelphia, it has become increasingly apparent that after a year without such sales – and with them resuming in an online-only capacity – that a number of questions and misconceptions about the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office and its role in the foreclosure process have persisted. Most, if not all, of these questions can be answered by going to our FAQ page or watching the town halls we have conducted on our YouTube page.
Since its founding in 1682, the Office of the Philadelphia Sheriff has been responsible for a wide range of duties – but it has never foreclosed on properties. The foreclosure process is a court process that can take years. The Sheriff’s Office is not involved in the foreclosure process. It executes the orders of the court to sell properties that have gone through the lengthy, multi-stage foreclosure process to arrive at the point of being put up for Sheriff Sale.
The Sheriff’s authority to conduct sales
The Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Sale process is controlled by and mandated by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure for handling the properties pre-sale, in-sale and post-sale. The same rules that were in place for in-person sales will also be in place for online sales. The only thing that has changed about the sale process is that it will now be taking place online. Just as the other counties throughout the commonwealth have abided by these rules to restart their own Sheriff Sales without issue, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office is committed to doing the same.
Leveling the playing field
The move to online sales will improve the auction process in a number of ways, including eliminating the possibility of favoritism, intimidation, human error and other issues that have been raised about the Sheriff Sales in the past. Among the many benefits to bidders in the Bid4Assets model is an overtime period that will prevent any auction sniping. And this leveling of the playing field is one of the most effective ways to ensure that community members get a fair shot at purchasing the properties in their neighborhood that have come up at Sheriff’s Sale, thus preventing speculators from gentrifying the essential fabric of our communities.
A clearly documented timeline to resuming sales
The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania’s Court Order #68, issued on December 23, 2020, announced and publicly noticed that the Sheriff Sale would resume virtually in April 2021. This order was passed down after the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office successfully delayed resumption of sales until that date due to concerns over the safety of all involved participating in an in-person sale.
The truth about ejectment
Homeowners and/or occupants of a property that has gone through the Sheriff Sale process CANNOT be removed from the property without the buyer going through the process of ejectment. The buyer is made aware of this process in our conditions of sale for both mortgage foreclosure and tax lien properties. To repeat: NO ONE will be evicted without due process occurring.
Bid4Assets: The clear choice, the right partner
After a lengthy period of due diligence that involved numerous potential partners, the Maryland-based company Bid4Assets was selected to conduct online Sheriff Sales because of their ability to fashion virtual sales to mirror live ones. Bid4Assets is a national leader in online asset sales, and has successfully conducted virtual sales for federal agencies and for other Pennsylvania counties, including Montgomery, Bucks, Berks and Monroe.
Thank you for being part of the process!
I hope this helps clear up any questions and concerns there may still be about the resumption of Sheriff Sales. I and my team have worked hard to make this process successful and transparent. If you have any questions still left unanswered, please let our Real Estate Department know by emailing them, and he will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer.
Yours in service,
Sheriff Rochelle Bilal