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Blood, sweat and tears at first foreclosure sale

Diary of a real estate flipper

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"Know all men by these presents." It sounds like the kind of thing that should get said at a sheriff's sale, but I don't think anybody actually said it. In fact, the whole atmosphere of my first sheriff's sale – I went to one in Union County, N.J. – was remarkably informal. When I was real estate editor at the New York Post I cautioned my readers against buying any foreclosed home because it's a box of chocolates – you never know what you're getting. The average Joe can't handle surprises, but I thought maybe I could, and I had my eye on a house in Plainfield that I had seen listed in the local paper. I'd sauntered by the house – in that way that two bus rides and a half-mile on foot is a saunter – and thought that the outside, at least, looked remarkably well kept. Union County (which includes Roselle Park and Elizabeth as well as Plainfield) is busy enough that there's a sale every Wednesday. My partners wanted me to go and learn the lay of t...