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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Web-based foreclosure auctions spark controversy

LOS ANGELES – Oct. 7, 2008 – Will the Internet replace public foreclosure auctions?

Public auctions of foreclosed properties began in the 19th century as a practical way to ensure there was no chicanery between lenders and public officials.

Next month, Duval County, Fla., will become the first county in the country to hold an Internet foreclosure auction, forgoing the traditional courthouse sale in the hope of attracting buyers from other areas.

If the Web-based process works out well, and other states sign on, it will be an earth-shifting change in the way foreclosures are handled.

Some real estate professionals think it is a bad idea.

“There are things about the title that you just can’t find on the Internet,” says Bruce Norris, CEO of the Norris Group, a real estate investment firm in Riverside. “They can’t tell you whether you’re buying a first mortgage or a second mortgage. If you’re buying a second, then you don’t own the home free and clear.”

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