Yes Richard. Problems with occupant arrise often but certainly not every time. In MD, the foreclosure has to be ratified by a judge after the auction. The courts are swamped with these cases and the current occupant can remain in the property for a long time even after the auction. After the sale is ratified, you become the legal owner of the property and can now proceed with the process of eviction. Few purchasers do cash for keys (very popular with banks these days) since it is very beneficial for the new owners to have the property vacant as soon as possible.
The interesting thing is that the occupants have become very astute as far as their legal rights go. Most of them know how long they can remain the property and what to do to prolong that stay. The last property that we bought at foreclosure auction took 10 months to get ratified and the old owner stayed until the very last possible moment. He knew the game.
These are just some of the risks involved in buying at courthouse steps. My opinions are based on my personal and professional experiences as an investor, property manager, and real estate broker. You should consult with an attorney for legal advice.
At Passport Realty, we specialize in REO properties and are the largest REO brokerage in the Baltimore area. I believe that REO properties provide a lot less risk for purchasers and a lot of them are priced really well.
If you have any additional questions Richard, I would be happy to discuss those with you.