Fred R. Staples, Judicial and Execution Sales in Washington, 24 Gonz. L. Rev. 297 (1988).
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Can the high bidder at an auction sale change his mind after the “hammer falls” and the auctioneer says “sold,” simply because he has “buyer’s remorse” and thinks he made a bad deal? You could if you were the high bidder at a sheriff’s sale in England before 1867 because the bid had no binding effect until it was confirmed by the court. In 1867, this rule was abolished by Parliament and the high bidder could be compelled to pay the purchase price after the auctioneer finalized the sale by “striking off” the property to him. The rather obvious reason for this change was that the sale would be a farce if it could be vitiated at the whim of the successful bidder. The old English rule never gained favor in the colonies until it was resurrected by Division II of the Washington Court of Appeals in 1987, in the case of In re Marriage of Davies. The Davies case held that the high bidder could withdraw his bid at any time before the sale was confirmed, and since he was also the creditor, he was the only person with standing to confirm. By his refusal to confirm, he could effectively abort the sale. In order to understand this remarkable revival of a long-discarded concept, it will be helpful to discuss the evolution of judicial and execution sales . . . Read More