Sure you can if you know what you're looking for. What do you look for? Or a better question, what should you look out for? There are risks involved when purchasing a home at a sheriff auction and here are just a few: you're buying "as-is" so you won't be able to inspect the home, in fact - you might not even be able to enter the home until it's yours, and then you might find some uninvited guests or "squatters" or even the old homeowners that you'll have to evict after you close. Does the home even have copper plumbing? It get stripped out of some of higher end homes too. Just a lot of unknowns. Does that mean you should walk away or run from a sheriff auction? Not necessarily, you just have to do your homework. You might have to run to the bank, however. Remember, bad things happen to good people and unfortunately sometimes it means loosing their home. If you decide to purchase at auction be sure you consult your title company and make sure they do a lien search and I'd also recommend purchasing title insurance. And...seek legal counsel. The majority of the homes go back to the lender and they're subsequently listed for sale by an agent. So keep your eyes open.
If you're interested in receiving a list of foreclosures and short sale listings in the area click here.
PS. Every Friday morning at the Summit County courthouse a public auction is held at 10am.