CHALLENGING SHERIFF’S SALES
The sale of a piece of property at a sheriff’s sale is the culmination of a long, drawn-out process. Any mistake along the way can cause the sale to be set aside. In Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital v. Steele, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently discussed the mechanism in setting aside a sale under Rule 3132 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.
A sheriff’s sale may be set aside if a plaintiff fails to abide by the notice requirements prescribed by Rules 3129.1, 3129.2 and 3129.3 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil procedure. The plaintiff must provide for prior notice of the sale to the defendant and every person who has a recorded interest that may be affected by the sale and any unrecorded interest of which the plaintiff has knowledge. Service is generally perfected upon mailing of the notice to parties in interest.
INADEQUATE PURCHASE PRICE
The price at which the property is sold at the sheriff’s sale may constitute proper cause for setting aside a sale. While mere inadequate of price is not a sufficient basis for setting aside a sheriff’s sale, gross inadequacy of price is sufficient. Pennsylvania courts refuse to fix the term grossly inadequate at any given amount or any percentage of the sale, but rather look at the particular facts and circumstances of each case.
FRAUD OR COLLUSION
The Court may set aside a Sheriff’s sale if there are allegations that there was any fraud or collusion between the defendant or the bidders. A court may set aside a sale if fraud or collusion deflated the purchase price.
DIFFICULTY OF SETTING ASIDE SALES
Courts are generally reluctant to set aside a sale presuming that the prices received at a duly advertised sale is the highest and best obtainable. As a result, courts will likely deny any attempt to overturn a sale unless there are gross procedural or substantive irregularities that adversely affect the rights of individuals. Setting aside a Sheriff’s sale is a difficult and technical endeavor. The successful attorney will first look for a mutually agreeable result, through relationships forged over time.
Santillán Law Firm, P.C. has gained insight to properly understand your opposition, the judge, and the peculiarities of the county, in order to counsel you on how best to determine whether procedural or substantive irregularities are evident which could allow for a Sheriff’s Sale to be set aside. Allow us to assist you in saving your home from the Sheriff’s gavel.