Foreclosure auctions go online

With a couple of mouse clicks, and a few keyboard strokes, Avi Stern has just placed a bid on a foreclosure property--  all from the comfort of his Boca Raton office.

"I am going to place a bid of $125,400," says Stern.

With home foreclosures on the rise, the Palm Beach County Clerk's Office last month moved its foreclosure auctions from the courthouse, to the Internet.  The online auctions are live, eBay-style, with each property up for bid for a limited time.

During Thursday's auction, we sat in with Stern, his father, and another partner, who have made buying and flipping foreclosure properties a full-time business.  Overall, they say they like the online auctions.

"It's definitely a lot more convenient," said Stern.  "I'm able to work from my office and have more information in front of me, and not have to go to the Palm Beach County Courthouse."

Any drawbacks to the online auctions?  "I think the system's still working through some kinks," said Stern.  "We're finding it to be a little slow, and I think we've lost some houses because of that."

Representatives of the Clerk's Office responded that the system administrator monitors the user load and makes adjustments.  Still, the Clerk's Office said it would look into the matter.

The Clerk's office holds at least two foreclosure auctions per week.  Information about dates, and qualifications for bidding, can be found at www.mypalmbeachclerk.clerkauction.com/calendar.