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Sheriff Sale of Real Estate FAQ's
  1. What is a Sheriff Sale?
  2. Where are Sheriff Sales held?
  3. How can I determine if a property will be sold?
  4. May I see the property I am interested in?
  5. What stops a Sheriff Sale?
  6. Can a sale be postponed?
  7. When do the sales take place?
  8. How much does it cost to bring a property to sale?
  9. What method of payment is accepted if I purchase a property?
  10. How can I determine the amount of money the property will be sold for?
  11. Is any property research required before the Sale?
  12. Conditions of Sale
  13. Deeds
  14. Distribution
  15. Staying a Writ
  16. Sheriff's Poundage
  17. General Information
  18. Definitions and Useful Terms
What is a Sheriff Sale?
An execution on a judgment that may be taken on real estate to satisfy a debt.
 
This is NOT a Tax Sale, which is the responsibility of the Dauphin County Tax Claim Bureau.
Where are Sheriff Sales held?
Each year there are 4 regularly scheduled sales listed on the Dauphin County Court Calendar. These sales are held in the Dauphin County Administration Building, Corners of Second and Market Streets, Commissioners Hearing Room, Harrisburg, PA, at 10:00 AM.
 
Additionally, there are 4 continued sales listed on the Dauphin County Court Calendar which are scheduled midway between regular sales. These sales are held in the Dauphin County Courthouse, Corners of Front and Market Streets, Main Lobby, at 10:00 AM.
How can I determine if a property will be sold?
Listings of all sales may be viewed on the Sheriff's Website or at the Sheriff's Office, at no charge. Upon request, listings will be provided at a nominal fee. Listings for regular sales are published by the Middletown Press & Journal and the Dauphin County Reporter, for three consecutive weeks before the scheduled sale.
May I preview the listed property?
Neither the Sheriff nor the Plaintiff in the action has physical access to the property. Properties are owned by the debtors until sold on the day of the sale and are not open for public viewing.
What stops a Sheriff Sale?
The sale can be stopped by (1) the writ being stayed, i.e., all proceedings involving the sale are stopped by the attorney for the Plaintiff; (2) a court order; or (3) an active bankruptcy.
Can a sale be postponed?
Yes. When a sale is postponed, it may be continued to a continued sale date or the next regularly scheduled sale date.
When do the sales take place?
Sale dates and times are listed on the Sheriff's Website. The sales always are scheduled on a Thursday at 10:00 AM.
How much does it cost to bring a property to sale?
Effective with the filing of Real Estate Executions for the January 2013 Sheriff’s Sale an advanced fee of two thousand dollars ($2,000) shall be placed on retainer by the attorney for the plaintiff, from which sheriff’s costs and advertising fees are deducted.  A refund, if any, is issued at the conclusion of the action, or additional funds collected, to zero the balance due to the Sheriff.
What method of payment is accepted if I purchase a property?
The successful bidder shall provide payment in full at the Sheriff's Office, Room 104 of the Court House, by 2:00 PM on the day of the sale, in the form of cash (in exact amount, large denominations only), certified bank check or money order.
 
No personal checks are accepted. If payment is not presented by 2:00 PM, the property is re-auctioned at 3:00 PM at the Sheriff's Office, the same day of the sale. The original purchaser at sale shall be held liable for the deficiencies of the re-auction and additional cost of said sale.
How can I determine the amount of money the property will be sold for?
The attorney who represents the plaintiff determines the amount. This is the "upset price" which may or may not be disclosed at Sale.
Is any property research required before the Sale?
The Sheriff guarantees no free-clear title to any property sold at Sale. The purchaser assumes all debt attached to the property.
Conditions of Sale
The Highest and best bidder shall be the buyer.
Terms: the purchaser will be required to pay the full amount of his bid by two o' clock PM on the day of the sale, and if complied with, a deed will be tendered by the Sheriff at the next Court of Common Pleas for Dauphin County, conveying to the purchaser all the right, title, interest and claim which said defendant has in and to said property at the time of levying the same.
 
Although not part of the minimum bid, property sold for the minimum bid does not discharge delinquent and/or outstanding taxes and the purchaser will be responsible for the same. A free-clear title is not guaranteed.
 
If above conditions be not complied with on the part of the purchaser, the property will again be offered for sale by the Sheriff at three o'clock PM on the same day in the Sheriff's Office, Room 104 of the Courthouse. The said purchaser will be held liable for the deficiencies and additional cost of said sale.
 
Jack Lotwick, Dauphin County Sheriff
Deeds
A condition of sale sheet will be provided in order to instruct the Sheriff to whom to prepare the deed. For properties selling for more than opening bid, a title search is ordered. A distribution sheet is prepared and posted for ten days seeking public comment, after which a distribution of funds is made.
 
On all properties sold at Sale, the Recorder of Deeds requires two (2) Tax Statement of Value Certificates (at least one of which must be an original with an original signature), attached with a self-addressed, stamped envelope in which the deed will be mailed to the new owner.
Distribution
Exceptions to the distribution of funds may be filed during the ten (10) days of public comment. If no exceptions are filed, the Sheriff's Deed will be recorded. Distribution is made in priority order to creditors. This order is set by law. Distribution dates are listed on the Sheriff's Website.
Staying a Writ
When a writ is stayed, the attorney for the plaintiff is required to advise the Sheriff, in writing, if any consideration was received on the stay. If money was received, 2% of the consideration is due for Poundage.
Sheriff's Poundage
Poundage, i.e. a fee, is paid to the County of Dauphin for each sale, if consideration is received. The amount is 2% of the bid price up to an amount of $250,000, and .005% is calculated on the remaining amount.
General Information
Deputies and employees of the Sheriff are unable to offer legal advice.
 
Payment by personal check for any matter in the Sheriff's Office is not accepted.
Definitions and useful terms
Continuance - the attorney of record may request the sale continued to a later date.
 
Poundage - a handling fee charged by the County on the sale of real estate.
 
Precipe for Writ of Execution - a request for the Prothonotary to issue a writ of execution/judgment on real property, pursuant to PA RCP 3180-3183.
 
Stay - term used when a sale is stopped.
 
Upset Price - the highest amount the attorney of record is prepared to bid for the client.
 
Writ of Execution - a document issued by the Prothonotary directing the Sheriff to execute on a judgment.
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