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Florida Foreclosure Surplus Funds - Should You Handle Your Surplus Case Pro Se, or Hire an Attorney?

I recently had a call with someone who was representing himself Pro Se (without an attorney) in his Florida Foreclosure Surplus Case. He wanted to know a little bit of information regarding whether a Third-Party Purchaser was entitled to any of the Florida Foreclosure Surplus Funds. He said the third-party purchaser had hired an attorney and he wasn’t sure what would happen at the hearing. I talked him through the basics of Florida Statute 45.033 and let him know that if he was the person listed on the deed at the time the original foreclosure case was filed, he should be fine. He would be better off if he hired me though.

Florida Statute 45.033(1) states in relevant part, “There is established a rebuttable presumption that the owner of record of real property on the date of the filing of a lis pendens is the person entitled to surplus funds after payment of subordinate lienholders who have timely filed a claim.” As long as you are the person(s) on the deed at the time the original foreclosure case (lis pendens) was filed, then you should be entitled to those Florida Foreclosure Surplus Funds (after any subordinate lienholders have timely made a claim).

Many third-party purchasers think that they are entitled to some or all of those surplus funds because they had to spend money to evict a former owner, or they purchased the property cheaply at a Homeowner’s Association Foreclosure sale. This is far from the truth, but they sometimes get away with it. If a third-party purchaser (the person or company who bought the property at auction) sees that there are Florida Foreclosure Surplus Funds available after purchasing the property, they might think they can get some of their money back. As long as the original owner of the property is competently represented by a qualified Florida Foreclosure Surplus Attorney, the third-party purchaser will not get any of those funds.

However, if the third-party purchaser can trick the judge or they hire an attorney who doesn’t tell the judge the actual law, they just might win. I have seen it happen time and time again. With a qualified Florida Foreclosure Surplus Attorney on your side, you will have a much better chance of keeping what is rightfully yours. There is a really great case from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals called Pineda v. Wells Fargo Bank from 2014. In this case, a third-party purchaser was seeking to have the court release the surplus funds to him. The former owner’s attorney pointed out the proper Florida Statutes and case law. The court ultimately found that “neither the statutes nor the case law governing distribution of surplus foreclosure sale proceeds provides a mechanism authorizing a third-party purchaser to obtain the surplus.”

Not many people understand this without having a qualified Florida Foreclosure Surplus Attorney on their side to obtain those Florida Foreclosure Surplus Funds. Can you do it without an attorney? Yes, it can be done. However, it is always better to have someone on your side who know the law and will fight for every penny you are owed. If you have Florida Foreclosure Surplus funds available to you with the courts, give me a call for a free consultation. I handle Foreclosure and Tax Deed Surplus cases in every county in the State of Florida, and I don’t get paid unless you do.

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