After the Webinar: Virtual Sheriff’s Sales – Fact or Fiction. Q&A with Jesse Loomis

Webinar presenter Jesse Loomis answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Virtual Sheriff’s Sales: Fact or Fiction. Here are just a few of his responses.

 

Audience Question: What civil service software have you integrated with in the past? Is it expensive to develop an interface? And what information is synchronized? 

Jesse Loomis: Yeah, that’s a great question. To answer a few that we have already integrated with. A few of the big ones are Civil Serv by Soft Code by Tyler Technology, Teleosoft, which I know, operates a lot in Pennsylvania and California. There are some smaller ones as well. But I mean, to answer your question, it’s not expensive. And Bid4Assets bears the cost of it anyway because we guarantee that sheriffs won’t have a cost associated with our services. The information that is ———– is primarily, going to be the status of the property, the date that it’s going to go to auction, and then kind of those specifics that we saw, the plaintiff and defendant, the debt amount, you know, those sorts of things. But as long as it’s a reasonably functional third-party software, in many cases, they may be feeding the information to your website already and creating a list on your website. If that’s the case, they’ve got that capability, so we’re just looking into that. So, a lot of these software packages, unless it’s a tiny, tiny company of one or two people, are going to be able to do very simple data push, and we grabbed from that data twice a day, and automatically update your landing page that way. If you have a specific software that you’re using, I’d welcome you to shoot me an e-mail, and I could have my tech people take a look and see if they’d have those capabilities.

 

Audience Question: Is this for only real estate? Or can it be any major asset such as a boat or cars, or jewelry, or anything like that?  

Jesse Loomis: Yeah, That’s a great point. I mean, I’ve definitely focused today’s talk on real estate. But there are a few sheriffs that we’re onboarding that is going to be much more personal property-centric, and we have a long history of selling certainly personal property for county surplus and federal law enforcement. You know, it’s a similar process. When you take personal property online, the inspection part of the process is kind of the only part of the process that’s a little bit different. It really helps to have pictures or some kind of accommodation to let people look under the hood, let’s say. If it’s going to be available for people if it’s a vehicle. If it’s something that people need to take their mechanic, they need to come and inspect to determine what they’re going to bid on. You know, the house, you just sort of drive by and look at it from the street with personal property. If you can have some way for people to evaluate the assets, that really helps. But other than that, it’s pretty much about the same process.

 

Audience Question: Are their browser limitations we need to worry about? So, does your platform work best only on Chrome, or Google, or anything like that that we need to know? 

Jesse Loomis: No, you shouldn’t have issues. I mean, we’re routinely cross-testing even somewhat outdated versions of all the major browsers to make sure that there’s compatibility both on the browser as you would see on various computers and operating systems. And then also what you would see on Samsung phones and iPhones and the different sort of web-based or tablet-based browsers. So, certainly, it should work pretty cross-functionally, if you ever saw, I’m using a particular browser in this button is grayed out, or something like that, someone would typically let us know, and I would welcome anyone listening if they ever had such an experience to do so, it’s just a matter of updating that.

 

Audience Question: In your experience, do agencies typically make as much in their online sales as they would have, in their in-person auction? isn’t usually a little bit more, a little bit less about even what’s your experience? 

Jesse Loomis: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty universally. I mean, I haven’t even seen over the last 20 years counties that we’ve taken online that have done the same level, it’s always going to be better for one kind of simple reason. The people who are participating in your live auction are definitely going to keep participating when it goes online. The process is only getting easier for them. Plus, we bring 800,000 registered bidders. So, we’ve got some number of thousands of bidders in your county and state. Plus, we run local marketing to tap into people who are in your county, who may not either know that these sales exist or just weren’t willing to participate because they couldn’t take a few hours off in the afternoon. So, when you figure your regulars are going to participate. Plus, all these new people that we expose the sale to, your sales are always going to increase.

 

Audience Question: Is there a way to handle questions during the online live auction? So, if a person’s they’re bidding but they have a question, is there like a question chatbox or something that staff is able to then respond quickly?  

Jesse Loomis: Sure. So, there’s kind of two categories of questions. There are the questions they have for your agency, and they’ll provide your contact information, whatever contact information you’d like us to share on your landing page. And then there’s also a message center where bidders can submit questions to your office that you can answer. And then, for the more general support, like tech support, has my deposit been processed? You know, we have live customer service via phone and e-mail for over 40 hours a week. So, it’s primarily phone and e-mail  are how bidders are contacting us.

 

Audience Question: What is the cost again to the bidder, meaning what is the percentage or fee to the winning bidder besides the initial $35 deposit fee?  

Jesse Loomis: I prefer to get into that on sort of a demo-by-demo basis. There are certain statutory restrictions in certain States that can affect it so that it can be slightly different market-by-market. So, happy to, you know, shoot me an e-mail, or if you’d like to conduct a demo, we can see kind of what the statutory landscape is for your state, and we’ll bring you a proposal on what makes sense for you.

 

Audience Question: Can you do a live auction, an online auction at the same time?  

Jesse Loomis: We’re not doing hybrid auctions, so we only are doing sales that come completely online.

 

Audience Question: In our jurisdiction, we have posting requirements. How are they handled with online sales?  

Jesse Loomis: Pretty much the same way they’re handled with live sales. So, really, the only difference to your posting requirements, as I’m sure in your legal notice, you state “Sale will be conducted at the courthouse, at blah, blah, blah time.” Now, it would simply say “Your sale will be conducted virtually at Bid4Assets.com/MontgomeryCountySheriff at this time.” So, other than that, your team would continue handling the noticing requirements in the same manner as you have. If there were any sort of statutory, any of the statutes allow you to use the internet for some of your noticing requirements. Then maybe there’s a way that we can help reduce some of you are noticing requirements, but barring that, which I don’t think exists in most places, your process is going to go relatively unchanged.

 

Audience Question: Does your system take care of all of the money handling? We have a 10% down payment the day of the sale, and then the balance within 10 days of the confirmation hearing. Do you collect that 90% balance? 

Jesse Loomis: We’d like to. The short answer is yes, we can. Unless that presents any challenge for your process. So, that’s, that’s not too dissimilar to the Berks County process that we looked at. So, it’s the upfront deposit, the remainder of 10%. They either do the day of sale or the day after sale, either is fine. And then some counties. It’s just you know, within 10 days of them or some within 10 days of the confirmation hearing, which the sheriff with just let us know when that confirmation hearing has occurred. And then our system would generate, okay, this starts at the 10-day window now, here is your, you know, our system always computes. Here is your remaining balance. Here’s what we have from you. Here is the Bid4Assets fee that you would add to that. And we collect all the money, attain our fee, and then disburse funds to your agency or the clerk of courts, or whatever the county designate. So yes, we can handle all of it, and just do the disbursement to the account desk.

 

Audience Question: Jesse, just in the grand scheme of things, what are the biggest issues you typically see agencies run up against when they’re considering doing an online auction? Is it the staff objecting to they’re feeling like they’re losing control? Is it really just a legislative issue that hasn’t been codified that they can? Or is it just simply awareness and kind of the fear of the unknown? 

Jesse Loomis: Yeah, and I think Sheriff Kilkenny from Montgomery County said on his video, “My staff, and even myself, at some point, you just get kind of stuck in your ways.” And this is how it’s been done hundreds of years; people have met at the courthouse and placed bids on these auctions. Why do I want to go changing that process? I mean, I’ve got, maybe other things I could focus on. You know, is there enough here that makes me want to go about bringing change? And so, the counties, you know who have done it, have been glad that they’ve done it. But you’ve got to take that sort of initial leap. COVID has been really interesting in that respect because some counties who may think it kind of makes sense, but it’s not a priority, suddenly thought, “Oh, now gathering at the courthouse is a public health concern.” So, I need to really take a look at this. And so, if you talk to many of the sheriffs in Pennsylvania, who initially said, this is something we’re going to try while it’s COVID, we can’t gather in the courthouse, and we’ll see what happens, Sheriff Kilkenny has publicly said, “This is permanent, we’re not going back to the old way of doing it.” So do some of the other sheriffs. It’s the kind of thing, you got to be willing to try something new, but if you are, counties universally love it. I do not see counties who over the last 20 years, have switched to an online auction ever go back to, “I want to go back to doing these at the courthouse.”

 

Click Here to Watch a Recording of Virtual Sheriff’s Sales: Fact or Fiction. 

 

 

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