If you ask me—and even if you don’t, I’ll tell you—Multnomah County is one of the most interesting in America. Half the county is beautiful mountains, wild terrain, and breathtaking falls. But, it also has a major city, Portland, at its heart. And, Portland, as anyone will tell you, is an extremely interesting place.

So, it is no wonder that this county has a continually-lively real estate scene. There are always a lot of people moving here, as industries continue to shift, and people moving around. A mixed economy produces a lot of churn, which means there are always houses to buy, fix up, and either rent or sell.

Finding the right houses, though, is an entirely different matter.

There are a lot of ways for you to get leads here, and maybe the most popular one is the Multnomah County Sheriff Sale for flipping houses. This is a typical place to find foreclosed houses and, while it has its benefits, it might not be worth it. If you’re thinking of finding investment houses at this auction, here’s what you need to know.

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Why Some Investors Choose Sheriff Sales

It’s pretty easy to understand why some investors choose to look toward a Sheriff Sale as their primary lead-gathering tool. After all, the sales are reliable. There are pretty much always houses being foreclosed upon, so you always know there is something to bid on.

The houses for sale are also pretty varied. You might be surprised by how nice some are. After all, people losing jobs or having health emergencies happen across all social lines. So, at a sheriff sale, you might actually be able to find a house that doesn’t need too much work and might even be able to sell pretty easily.

Maybe one of the more appealing things is that it is pretty cut-and-dry: if you have the high bid, you get to buy the property. You aren’t talking to a homeowner who has their own idea of what is a reasonable offer. You aren’t doing anything much more complex than raising your hand and signing checks.

The question is whether these outweigh the drawbacks.

The Trouble With The Multnomah County Sheriff Sale

To talk about the trouble with sheriff sales, I want to make clear the things I value most in this business: time and money. Time might be your most important currency, and you can’t afford to waste it. And, I don’t think I need to tell you that you shouldn’t waste money, either.

That’s why I tend to avoid the Multnomah sheriff sale. Here are some reasons why, all of which flow into each other.

It’s a lot different than other places.

Here in Multnomah, the auctions are run through the Tax Title Program, which diverts 100% of all net profits into programs that provide affordable housing for children and their families. That’s great—it’s one of the reasons I love Portland. But, it means there is a lot more bureaucracy. Each auction has to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

Auctions are infrequent.

This board approval means that they have to determine if there are enough houses for an auction and the best time and place to do it. So, even when things are normal (for Portland), they tend to be more infrequent. It’s not unusual to go a month or two between auctions.

A small supply of houses.

Multnomah County as a whole has a very low foreclosure rate. At any given sale, there might be as few as five houses up for sale.

There is a lot of competition.

Remember how we talked about a lot of people being interested in sheriff sales? That’s true—and that means the few houses that are for sale have lots of bidders. That’s heightened by the lack of frequency and supply here in Multnomah. The minimum bid can shoot up real fast and you might have to outspend to have a chance at buying it.

You don’t have all the information on the house.

There is a flip side to not having the opportunity to work with a homeowner. You don’t get to talk to them, learn about the property, and inspect it yourself. There could be underlying conditions that mean you’d have to pump in a lot more money to rent or sell it.

These are listed for four weeks online. You get the year built, sometimes the square feet, and a few other things. You can augment that from other sources. But, there is only so much you can know about a house without walking around and inspecting its bones.

You are on the hook for all the risks.

When you buy a house at an auction, you are responsible for all of the liens and taxes. That means the price you pay for the house could be just the start of your costs. And, in Multnomah, with limited information, there can be a lot of surprises.

There are a lot of rules.

The local government here in Multnomah County errs toward protecting homeowners, who are given a very long time to reclaim their home. There is a one-year Redemption Period, in which time “all persons recorded having an interest in the property” are notified. You don’t get your Bargain and Sale Deed for a full year, during which you’re sitting on a property and not earning a dime on it.

What does this all mean? A few things.

1.  You don’t have great odds of getting a house, which means you’ve wasted your time.

2.  If you do get it, you probably had to go higher in price than you wanted in order to outbid other investors and investment groups.

3.  Once you’ve overpaid, you might have to spend a lot more on taxes, penalties, and possibly repair.

4.  After all that, you won’t know for a year if you own it outright.

Some of these are true for Sheriff sales in counties across the state and country, but they are especially true here in Multnomah. The best-case scenario is that none of this matters and you make a mint on the property. But you are taking on huge risks with your money and your time. After all, if you work on a house and can’t timely sell it for a profit, that’s a lot of wasted time and, obviously, a huge waste of money.

Sheriff sales aren’t always terrible. They can work. But, they are also a gamble. You need to find a better way.

A Better Way To Get Real Estate Leads in Multnomah County

I used to go to the Multnomah County Sheriff Sale a lot, always with the nagging feeling that there had to be a better way. I needed to find a way that protected my money and respected my time. I found that when I became an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee.

HomeVestors® is the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” people. I know you’ve seen the commercials and billboards. They’ve been around since 1996 and distressed homeowners trust the national brand. So, when they have an “ugly” situation, they call a HomeVestors® franchisee like me to help.

I can talk to the homeowner, do an inspection, and make them a fair offer. There’s much less competition and much more information. And, when you buy the house directly from the homeowner before foreclosure, you own it outright.

Like I said, the Multnomah County Sheriff Sale, with all its rules, is as interesting as the county and its flagship city themselves. But, that’s not always a good thing. You want a steady, stable, qualified lead-generating strategy. If you’re interested in the better way to get real estate investment leads in Multnomah County, request information about becoming a franchisee today.


Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.


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