This foreclosed house on South Mountain Avenue in Ashland will be auctioned off Tuesday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Deja vu for sheriff's sale auctions

In the Dec. 31 classified section of the MT, there were four pages of properties for auction under the title "Notice of Sheriff's Sale." Please elaborate on how these properties came under the purview of the sheriff's office, and where the money goes from the proceeds of the sales.

— Charles H., Medford

The 103 properties listed Dec. 31 in the Mail Tribune classifieds section were all foreclosures handled through the judicial system, according to Capt. Tim Snaith, who oversees the Jackson County Sheriff's Office Support Bureau, including the Civil Division.

By state law, when an Oregon court issues a judgment requiring the sale of property, it's up to the county sheriff's department to conduct the public auction.  

Uh, oh. Another foreclosure crisis?

No. These properties are remnants of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-10 that led to the Great Recession. After years in limbo, hundreds of judicial foreclosures flooded Jackson County Circuit Court dockets starting about 2013, according to Snaith.

That wave of judgments ordering homes to be auctioned hit the Civil Division in 2015 and continued to snowball in 2016.

How many sheriff's sales have there been recently?

There were 495 in 2016, with most coming in the fall: 99 in October, 110 in November and 103 in December. Another 127 were on the books for 2017 as of Jan. 5.

Why hold so many at once?

It's best for the county to process the backlog quickly, Snaith said. Abandoned foreclosed houses can become hotbeds for crime, drawing squatters, vandals and drug users.

Snaith came up with a strategic plan to clear the backlog by the end of 2016, a goal met with minimal overtime and staff from extra departments.

“We’re essentially caught up on the backlog," Snaith said. "It’s a real accomplishment.”

What's involved in a sheriff's sale?

  • Lender submits copy of the judgment and levy, among other court documents, to the sheriff's office

  • Staff enters invoice and sale data into a computer program that streamlines the civil sale process

  • Auction sale dates are arranged

  • A legal ad providing 30-day notice of auction is submitted to newspapers and, run by the Oregon State Sheriff's Association

  • Sheriff's deputy is sent out to post notice on property itself

  • Auction is held at sheriff's office

  • Bids must be paid in full by cash or cashier's check

  • Sales are as-is. It's up to the bidder to research zoning and other issues

  • Deputy posts notice of sale on the property

  • After 180-day redemption period, sheriff's office issues deed to high bidder.

Where does the money go?

Bidders pay the sheriff's department, and the money goes through courts back to the lender who filed the case.

Though the sheriff's office submits the ad posted in the paper, the lender's law firm pays for the ads.

When are the next sales?

10 a.m. Jan. 10-11 at the sheriff's office, 5179 Crater Lake Highway, Central Point. See

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