I'm noticing when sifting through county records of property foreclosure auctions, sometimes (rarely) a property is sold for lower than the holder's opening bid (remaining balance of the loan). How does that work? Can you bid lower than the opening bid? If not, how does this happen?

  • The bids are fake, designed to push the price up? And/or the original bidder backs out? Jan 20, 2023 at 17:26
  • Is it true that the lien holder always requires a bid higher than the loan balance?
    – D Stanley
    Jan 20, 2023 at 17:28
  • Say an auctioneer’s opening price fir a Ming vase is $10,000 but nobody wants to pay $10,000 for that vase. Does he say “oh well…” and stop the auction, or does he start lowering the price until someone makes a bid? Either, depending on the seller’s conditions. Same with property foreclosure auctions.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 20, 2023 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


How does that work?

It's an auction.

Can you bid lower than the opening bid?

Absolutely. If the trustee wants to recover any money - they have to sell. If there's no-one willing to pay the full amount - they'll sell for less just to recover something.

The opening bid is not actually a bid, it's just a "listing price".

  • Sometimes the opening bid is also the reserve, bids below it might be rejected by seller. Bids above cannot be rejected.
    – Stian
    Jan 21, 2023 at 8:58
  • These are technicalities of the specific transactions, which are up to the seller. But there's nothing conceptually to prevent bidding below listing price. That's how car dealership haggling works.
    – littleadv
    Jan 21, 2023 at 20:29

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