Burns v. Ben
A sales price of approximately 50 percent of the appraised value is not unconscionable per se. In November 2011, the Superior Court found that the fair market value of the subject property was $340,000 and entered a judgment of partition by sale, with a sales date of Jan. 28, 2012. The parties extended the sales date to March 24, 2012 and listed the property for sale. In February 2012, the defendant filed an unsuccessful motion to open the judgment, to extend the sales date. In response to a motion for advice from the committee, the court rescheduled the sale to May 2012. On the rescheduled sales date, there was only one bid for $20,000. Because the property was subject to prior encumbrances, liens and easements, which were approximately $130,000, the effective purchase price was $150,000. An updated property appraisal estimated the fair market value of the subject property at $296,000. The defendant objected to the sale, because the sales price was substantially less than the fair market value. The defendant requested that the court disapprove the May 2012 sale and permit prospective buyers to submit bids on the open market. The successful bidder objected to the defendant's request and argued that the $150,000 purchase price is fair, and the property has been on the market a significant time. "[A] sale price of roughly one-half the appraised value," wrote the court, "is not unconscionable per se." The court added, "To order a new sale with its attendant costs and uncertainties will only exacerbate the situation and in all likelihood lead to foreclosure." The court approved the sale and awarded compensation to the committee for preparing for both the March 2012 sale that was scheduled and cancelled, and the May 2012 sale, as well as the property appraisal.