I take calls on an almost daily basis from people who have been contacted by a third-party surplus recovery company about their Florida Foreclosure Sale Surplus Funds or Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds. They often ask me how the third-party surplus recovery company got their information. The short answer is public records. Besides the fact that these companies are often doing some underhanded tricks to get you to sign up with them, I will discuss how they got your information.
When you stop paying on your mortgage or you stop paying property taxes on your property, a type of court proceeding is started. For a mortgage, or sometimes for another type of lien (such as Homeowner’s Association Lien for unpaid assessments), a Foreclosure case is started. This foreclosure case is filed in the county court in which the property is located. This foreclosure case, like the vast majority of civil cases, is Public Record. Under the Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420, the public has “a presumptive right of access to all court records with the court clerk.” These records can include case dockets, transcripts, motions filed by the parties to a case, filed exhibits, and disposition records. There may be some sensitive information that is held confidential like social security numbers, cause of death, or by court order other sensitive information.
Next, the majority of the counties in the State of Florida will have the foreclosure auctions on a website in conjunction with a company called Real Foreclose or Realauction.com. This website will contain an auction calendar and not only allows regular people to bid on the foreclosure auctions, it also contains the Foreclosure Case Number, the Parcel ID of the property, the Final Judgment Amount, and the Assessed Value of the property. Once the bidding is complete, this will also show how much the property sold at auction for. If the property sold for more than the final judgment amount, then there may be Florida Foreclosure Sale Surplus Funds available to the former owner. All the third-party recovery company has to do is click on the case number link and find the original owner or the heirs of the original owner from the case information and begin trying to find them.
For Florida Tax Deed Sales, the Clerk of Court or Comptroller for your county usually has a link to the sales and are usually done through Realauction.com as well. There may not be a link to a case number, but the parcel ID number will be there and how much is owed on the taxes. Once the property is sold at the auction, you can see how much is owed vs how much the highest bidder paid for it. There could be thousands of dollars in Florida Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds available.
These third-party surplus recovery companies watch these sites every day. They look to see if any of the properties that have Florida Foreclosure Sale or Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds available. Sometimes they have already researched how to locate you and will start calling and emailing you minutes after the sale is complete. They will then start to pressure you to sign over your rights to those funds to them. That is the key though. In order for them to retrieve the funds, you must sign over your rights. Florida Statute 45.033(3) states, “A voluntary transfer or assignment shall be a transfer or assignment qualified under this subsection, thereby entitling the transferee or assignee to the surplus funds or a portion or percentage of the surplus funds.” The statute further goes into what must be included in this transfer of rights.
If you hire a qualified Florida Foreclosure Sale or Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds Attorney, like me, you will not ever sign over your rights to me. I will represent you as your lawyer in the case to retrieve your surplus funds. Once the third-party surplus recovery company has obtained your rights to the funds, they must generally hire their own attorney to get the funds for them and they then give you a portion. Hiring an attorney yourself can save you thousands and it cuts out this “middleman”.
If you have been called out of the blue by a third-party surplus recovery company, I advise you to not sign anything, no matter how much they pressure you. Research the issue yourself and contact a qualified Florida Foreclosure Sale and Tax Deed Sale Surplus attorney, like me. I will give you a free consultation on your case and let you know the best way to get your funds the fastest. I handle Foreclosure Sale Surplus Funds and Tax Deed Sale Surplus Funds in every County in the State of Florida, and I don’t get paid unless you do.