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The Sheriff’s Office of Lebanon County is moving its sheriff’s sales online.

The new platform went live in January, and will host the first county auction on Feb. 14 at 10 a.m.

Sheriff’s sales are used to liquidate properties that must be sold for mortgage and judgment defaults.

The new online platform is called RealForeclose, a product of the privately owned company Realauction.com LLC, and is accessible through https://lebanon.pa.realforeclose.com.

This platform allows potential investors and bidders to access the service through any device with internet access. Although registration is required to participate in the auctions, no login information is needed to review the schedule for upcoming sales. This information is also available on the sheriff’s office website.

“It’s going to increase the revenue for the county due to the wider audience,” said Sheriff Jeffrey Marley, who estimates that in-person auctions usually averaged 20 people “on a good day.” 

Marley also mentioned many may have been dissuaded from attending in-person sheriff’s sales due to parking challenges and security procedures needed when individuals access a secure government building such as the Lebanon County Municipal Building; remote participation would thus alleviate these and other barriers.

“They don’t have to be online at the time of the auction,” said Marley, referring to the ability to set bids in advance through the portal.

Informed by the experience of other Pennsylvania counties that have adopted similar strategies – with York and Fayette counties already having partnered with Realauction.com – higher participation is expected to result in higher bids, increasing the county’s revenue from sheriff’s sales. In addition to the standard real estate transfer tax, which helps fill up county coffers, properties sold through sheriff’s sales are also subject to a 2% poundage fee on amounts up to $250,000, as well as 0.5% on any amount over $250,000.

Marley also said that higher bids, in certain circumstances and “once the bills are paid or the appropriate money is dispersed, … also help the person who was foreclosed on; they have the opportunity to get money back which assists them to get back on their feet.”

Additional benefits cited by Marley include cutting down on his staff’s workload, as well as Realauction.com charging a flat fee of $250 per auction, as opposed to the percentage-based fees of other providers.

“The only downfall or negative feedback that we heard – before this even went live – was the technological part,” said Marley. “Not everybody is savvy with that.”

As a response, free training classes are offered as webinars, with the first one having taken place on Jan. 6, and an upcoming session scheduled for Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. Free registration is available online.

For more information regarding technical support, auction procedures, or online training, Realauction.com customer service can be reached at 877-361-7325 or customerservice@realauction.com. For other inquiries regarding the sheriff’s sales, the Lebanon Sheriff’s Office is available at 717-228-4410.

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