From the perspective of Emily, who had never experienced a trustee sale and accompanied Ashley to the courthouse:

On a rainy Tuesday in downtown Greenville, Ashley Hammons of AT Home Texas Real Estate climbs up to the second story of the courthouse. She has general knowledge about the properties she is bidding on and has run a preliminary title search. In hand, she has cashier’s checks for many different amounts and some cash (in a previous experience she almost lost the bid because she didn’t have any small bills and a bystander gave her one dollar to win). In her stomach are butterflies, she shared she always gets nervously excited even though she has done this so many times.

This process is a waiting game. In Hunt County, Texas, you have a three-hour window when the trustees can appear. They either announce themselves loudly, or they can be sneaky, possibly hiding behind a fake plant or other decor and whispering about the property with the hope no one hears. During this waiting game, other bidders mill around and try to get you to share which properties you are there to purchase so they know if you are the competition. Ashley sits on the cold marble floor and keeps her files and the homes she wants to bid on close to her chest, not fully answering the questions asked by the curious investors present. Each person walking by draws Ashley’s stare, wondering if they are simply an attorney going to court or a trustee she needs to follow.

After an hour in, the trustee for one of the properties Ashley is interested in bidding on shows up and runs the auction. Six people gather around, and the bidding starts. Ashley counters the bank’s starting bid by just $30 and wins the house in a few seconds. The Trustee and Ashley sit on a nearby church-like bench in the foyer of the courthouse and complete the paperwork for the real estate transfer. She ruffles through her stack of cashier’s checks and cash to find just the right amount. The paperwork and exchange take less than ten minutes, and the property is hers. Then the waiting game for the other two properties on her list begins. In this case, Ashley waits two more hours to have the other trustees cancel their auction.