Phoenix home auctions have been moving properties fast to aggressive buyers as lenders lower their prices to attract bidders and to ensure all their troubled properties are bought at the auctions.

Since August last year, the number of homes getting sold off at Valley auctions has been rising to record levels.

In February, about 940 houses were bought at foreclosure auctions in Phoenix, a whopping 400-percent increase from the number of homes sold at Valley auctions in February 2009.

Not only are bidders aggressively snapping up the properties at the auctions because of the low prices, they are also aggressively evicting former owners of foreclosed homes in Phoenix.

Under Arizona law, the buyer of a foreclosed home must first notify the former owner to move out within five days. If the former owner refuses to move out, the buyer can file for forcible eviction with a local court. If the eviction filing is approved, the Office of the Maricopa County Sheriff sends an officer to evict the former owner.

In 2009, the number of forcible evictions rose to 1,416, far above the 280 forced evictions in 2007.

The number of properties getting sold at Phoenix home auctions continues to surge. In January, while other large metro areas posted decreases in foreclosure filings, Phoenix posted an increase, the second highest rate of increase among 203 large metro areas. Actual foreclosures and pre foreclosures in Phoenix increased by four percent to a rate of one foreclosure for every 102 households in January.

In many foreclosure cases, former homeowners do not need to be evicted as most of them want to comply with the law. But because of financial difficulties, they postpone their move until their house is actually auctioned off and bought. They are hoping that their properties are not bought so they can have more time to look for a place to move to. Besides, the time they spend on their foreclosed home means free rent.

Oftentimes, foreclosures are canceled or revoked, giving more time to distressed homeowners to prepare. A lender can cancel a foreclosure before the auction or revoke a foreclosure sale after the property is sold.

According to real estate lawyer Diane Drain and John Smith, head of the Mesa nonprofit Housing Our Communities, homeowners should be given time to move out from the time their properties are sold at the Phoenix home auctions so they can organize and leave with dignity and so that new owners can have a better experience in buying homes.

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