Sheriff Sales are really only for buyers that have the CASH (not financing) to buy a property outright and in today's market, most houses are bid above current value by the bank that ordered the foreclosure because many banks still bid what they are owed, which is usually far higher than current value otherwise the homeowner would have sold it.
As great as all the INFORMATION is on the Internet, it still offers very little KNOWLEDGE as to what it all means and how to use it for your benefit. That's what those of us who buy and sell houses for a living spend each and every day learning and doing.
I believe that Realtytrac is in the information and lead generation business. The reason that this listing has no house number and has a button for you to register is for Realtytrac to then sell your information to an agent that's paying for you as a "lead". A public auction, in this sense, is really a Sheriff's sale where the lender has forced their rights through court proceedings to have the property sold at the county Sheriff's office to the highest bidder, for cash, and almost always with a redemption period for the current homeowner to make good on the loan in order to keep the house. If you have cash on hand to leave with the sheriff's office for upwards of 6 months (redemption period), you could get a sweet deal on a house (if the current owner doesn't redeem and/or trash the home). Otherwise, register with Realtytrac, and see if you don't get a phone call from an agent that tries to secure you as a buyer for a completely different property (they'll probably tell you that the one you're interested in isn't really available.) Anyone else in this blogosphere have a different answer? Debra, I'd suggest getting an agent that will represent your interests... one that you trust, or has been referred to you by someone you trust. Or, interview some of the agents on this site and see who seems to offer you the best advice and package of services. Happy house-hunting! It certainly is an interesting time to buy!