Be sure to check back for more FAQ as we will continue to add your frequently asked questions
We do not have any plans right now to create surplus lists from other states because other states/county auctions do not work currently like Florida (Live auctions, Property Information Reports online, No redemption period after the auction). This makes it impossible to supply surplus records in the manner that we do for Florida.
We find that counties outside of Florida will put up a surplus list once their redemption period is over, which can be as far away as 2 years after the auction happens. There is no use obtaining these lists before the redemption period because a property owner may redeem and any surplus mentioned would not apply.
Although WE don’t provide lists for other states, there is another company that does (TaxSaleResults.com).
We are not affiliated with them, but if you get those lists, we do offer assistance in locating the claim form and process as well as the contact info for the county. Since they give ONLY a list, we know you need more than that so we try to help you. Also, ANY list you have can be converted to import into your copy of the surplus database that resides on the website we give you. We have a video series showing you how to convert different file types into the format that will import into the database.
This makes it so you can organize and easily work through the records instead of having hundreds of lists in different file formats laying around on your computer.
Also, we find that once our clients understand how the whole process works, they are more knowledgeable on how to work with other states/counties. Locating the surplus lists is the easiest part. It is the claim process and laws that require in depth research and that is where we can assist you.
For more information, please read our document “Other Counties“
First, not all counties put a list up on their website. In fact, most do not. Some will put a PDF list up once a year, others have a search form to search records.
However, as stated above, the information the county provides on their “lists and records” is not user-friendly to asset recovery companies. The lists they provide are meant for the previous owners to look and see if they have surplus.
There is not enough information to be helpful to asset recovery companies.
For example, the county list will provide something like:
Case# Auction Date Parcel ID Surplus Amount
2017-4515TD 08/20/2016 00012854J62A4 $25,621.55
If you were the previous owner of that property, you know that is the Parcel Number of your property and therefore, you found surplus for yourself. However, as an Asset Recovery person, the above information doesn’t help you. Using what the county gives, you will need to:
- Look up the Parcel ID on the Property Appraisers website and find out who the owner was at the time of the auction. So you have to look back at the sale date (8/20/2016). If you look at the Property Appraisers site, it will show you who owns it now, NOT the person who owned it at the time of the sale… so you have to go deeper and look at the sale date that matches the auction date to find the correct owner who is entitled to the surplus.
- Locate the Tax Deed documents pertaining to the Case # and within those documents, find the Ownership & Encumbrance Report or Title Report that the county was obligated to create at the time of the auction so all owners and lienholders could be notified. Therefore, you are able to see if there are liens or mortgages on the property that would be entitled to the surplus before the previous owner. Plus you may find additional addresses for the owner to help you locate them because they highly likely no longer live at the property that was auctioned off. (We say ‘highly likely’ because it is possible the person who purchased the tax deed at auction allowed them to continue living at the property in exchange for rent)
Performing those tasks above takes a tremendous amount of time. Therefore, after you have spent so much time on the above, you STILL have to deal with convincing the previous owner to hire you and putting in a claim with the county. Meanwhile, a whole new batch of surplus records is ready and waiting for you to begin with. It can quickly overwhelm you.
Can you begin to see why we say there is no over-saturation? There are massive amounts of auctions, records, documents and more to where it can become too much to handle and people give up trying to keep up.
And THAT is why we also created https://www.SurplusDatabase.com
You NEED help in keeping up with the tax deed surplus cycle. We have a team that is laser-focused on the tax deed records in Florida. We provide the great, researched records, you relax and deal with the rest.
Sure but you are not done. They will give you a “list” of information that you can easily pull right off a county website for free but you still need much more information before you can even begin to use that record. (See Below in another FAQ).
Please take note, we are talking about Florida Only! There are different laws and statutes regarding tax deed surplus in other states and counties. There may be a list provider for another state that does not require lienholders to be paid first. We are not talking about them. Our training and surplus lists pertain to Florida.
Although Florida Surplus Recovery can seem intimidating with the statutes and liens, the state also has the most open public record laws in the country. You are able to get your hands on every document and piece of information you need concerning the property, owners and liens.
100% no! There was a time when I personally thought of doing it. However, at the time, there was practically NO information online and trying to figure out all of the processes and systems of each and every county was mind-boggling. I began gathering the information for myself, keeping notes, making lists and charts. Microsoft Excel and Access became my best friends. As I began to see how massively spread out and ridiculous all the information and links were, I decided THIS was a way better method for me to conduct my business. As it turns out, I am quite an introvert and the ‘salesman’ part of claiming surplus was not for me. I am far better working behind the curtain.
No. When we began this service, we had never heard of him. However, this has ultimately become one of our most asked questions.
SurplusDatabase.com is owned solely by Natalie Williams and not affiliated with ANY other ‘tax deed surplus’ business out there.
We own the following:
and a few other domain names that we are currently not using.
We get asked to compare ourselves with his service but we cannot since none of us here use his service. The only thing we can offer in comparison is that we supply our clients with daily researched surplus lists we create from the auctions we watch live. We also supply the property owners name and mailing address.
There is no other company in the U.S. that does this currently.
The answer to this always varies. Since there are no contracts or mandatory term lengths, subscribers are free to come and go as you please.
People constantly think this business is over-saturated. The truth of the matter is that 80-90% of the people who try it will likely not stick with it. This is not a Get Rich Quick Scheme. I’m sure you have seen websites out there that scream success in the surplus recovery business. They are salesmen who “sell the dream”. There is actual hard work involved and the point of our records and training is to greatly reduce the time our clients spend on this end of the process.
It’s about the numbers. You need as many good surplus records you can get your hands on. You cannot just stick with one county. We produce surplus records from 36-38 counties and by the time you do all that needs to be done to find the good records, it’s time for the next week of auctions and you have zero time to locate clients, sign them and submit surplus claims.
- First and most importantly, no matter how many people have access to good surplus records, the ultimate question is not “How many people have this record”… It is “How can I win this client?“. There are multiple strategies of competition: Lower percentage fees, visiting potential client in person, developing a good relationship over the phone, constant contact, services beyond surplus recovery, etc.
- Second, with surplus records, there is a new set of records 4-5 Days a week / every week. Each surplus record is a brand new person/possible client. There is no repeat of potential clients (well, sometimes there is since a person can own more than one property that goes to a tax deed auction). Also, now with the new Florida Statute in effect, lien holders have only 120 days to put in a claim or are barred forever, therefore there is a big push to gain the lien holders as clients as well. So it isn’t as if ALL Asset Recovery Businesses are fighting over a set amount of 100 clients and once the clients are all chosen, there are no more.
- If you are looking at other methods of obtaining surplus records, they ALL create competition. We win by supplying the records the FASTEST way possible.
So while the short answer is ‘yes, you will have competition’, the correct answer is “if you are going to be in this business at all and have any chance of success, you HAVE TO get to the surplus records long before the county releases them and our website is the answer’.
If YOU found a county’s old surplus list laying around somewhere, you can’t think you are the only one who found it. Our method has a lot less competition that those surplus lists given a month or year after the auction.
Also, people will subscribe one month, take a break to process all those records, then re-subscribe in another month, etc. We have NO contracts or term limits. You are free to come and go as you please.
Once you receive your surplus records, there is a LOT of other work you have to still do: Locate potential client(s), gather necessary paperwork, submit claim to the county, track the claim, etc. Therefore, having a new set of fresh records every auction day can quickly become overwhelming. With all this in mind, we believe there are plenty of surplus records and potential clients to go around.
We guarantee that our method is the fastest way of locating great surplus records.
One thing we can tell you for sure: If you cannot succeed with tax deed surplus recovery in Florida using our records, our methods… you will not succeed at all because there is no way to get records faster. Plus we give you the Property Information Reports, which is a tremendous time-saver for you.
Specific to Florida Counties
We would not be able to answer exactly because we have no idea how well YOU work or how soon YOU can locate a potential client from our surplus lists.
So however long that takes PLUS, what is written below:
Let’s say an auction ended yesterday and produced good surplus. If you located the previous owner tomorrow and had them sign your contracts this week, it would still be approximately 130-210 days before you receive a check from the county.
After the auction, the county has 90 days to deal with everything on their end and mail out a surplus notice.
Then all lien holders have 120 days to put in a claim.
So from the moment you sign a client, you could expect income in roughly 4-7 months.
That answer is for the new, fresh surplus records we send daily.
If you work older records where the lien claim deadline has already passed (like from the ‘Monday Reports’ we send out to Pro Level subscribers), then you could see a check in as little as 2 weeks. More realistically it would be 30 days.
Each county has their own claims forms and procedures. But the basic process is this:
- Decide on what documentation you need the county requires. Most require
- a copy of the surplus letter they sent out
- a copy of the paper that proves your clients interest in the surplus (Previous owner will need the property deed, a Lien Holder will need their documents showing the previous owner owes them)
- copy of your clients drivers license
- County Surplus Claim Form
- If your client signed over their interest to you, copy of that document as well as your drivers license
- Have all papers filled, signed and notarized
- Give to County Clerk of Court (Mail, Fax, In Person)
- Be prepared to contact clerk for updates
Each county page on FloridaOverbids.com has the links you need to figure out what is needed. Also, you can always call the Clerk of Court (Tax Deed Department) with questions.
Florida’s open public record law is fantastic and you can get anything you need by requesting it.
When determining the opening bid, a county takes into account if the property is homestead. If it IS, then 1/2 of the Assessed value of the property is added to the Opening Bid. That shows BIDDERS what they need to start the bidding. However, for the purposes of collecting surplus after the auction, that ‘1/2 of the assessed value’ also goes to the previous owner/lienholders/mortgage company (whoever is claiming the surplus).
No matter what the starting bid and ending bid is, the county only recovers their past due property tax and that’s it. The rest is surplus.
Late Property Taxes: $5,000
Homestead Property Value: $100,000
Starting Bid will be: $55,000 (Amt of Taxes PLUS 1/2 assessed value)
Property sells at auction for: $55,100
However, the surplus is actually $50,100 because THAT is the amount the property sold for over and above the amount due in property taxes.
HERE IS AN ACTUAL EXAMPLE FROM ST. LUCIE COUNTY
At the top, there is a screenshot of a tax deed auction result. Below that is the Notice of Surplus the county mailed out.
CORRECT SURPLUS CALCULATION EXAMPLE
How long does a homeowner have to claim overbid funds once property has been sold? How long do lenders have to claim overbid funds after property has been sold?
I find that each county interprets the Florida Statues about tax deed sales differently and when one county may answer that question one way, the next county has a different answer.
However, in general terms, the county will hold the unclaimed surplus for a year and then turn it over to the state of Florida.
OR they may hold it forever and give a deadline for the previous owner and lien holders to claim after which time, it is forfeited.
The previous home owner can (and should) put in a claim right away, but if there are liens then the county will wait 90 before processing any claim forms from previous owners.
If, after one year**, the lender or other liens have not put in a claim, the previous owner can claim it.
If the county turns it over to the state, the previous owner can claim it from Florida State’s unclaimed website.
Florida has VERY OPEN public record laws. You can call or email ANY of the counties Clerk of Court offices and they will answer your questions based on their own county.
**Update 10/01/18. The New Florida Statute takes effect. Beginning with Tax Deeds that are applied for after Oct 1, 2018, ALL lienholders (except the IRS) will have just 120 Days (from the date the surplus notice was mailed) to put in their claim of they are forever barred from doing so and the entire surplus amount is owed to the previous owner.
In order to produce accurate and complete surplus records, we need to know if there are liens or mortgages on the property because those liens are entitled to take the surplus money before the previous owner can.
To find out if there are liens or mortgages on the property, we have to see the Ownership & Encumbrance report that the county provides on every tax deed that is going up for auction.
38 out of 67 Florida Counties provide their O&E Reports freely online, you just need to know where to find them. These are the counties for which we provide surplus records. The other counties either offer the O&E’s only in person at the Clerk of Court office or they will provide the O&E by email/fax if you ask, but they may charge a fee for them. If you are interested in those other counties, we do provide contact information for the Clerk of Court for every county so you can request the O&E.
If Hundreds of Tax Deeds go to auction every week in Florida.. why are there not hundreds of surplus records each week?
We collect records from 38 out of the 67 counties (why only 38? See next FAQ). When the week begins we collect the records from all the tax deeds that are supposed to go to auction that week. From that point on, several things happen that reduce the amount of surplus records we will have at the end of the week:
- Before the auction begins many of the tax deeds are redeemed as people are paying their back taxes before they lose their home so that takes a lot out of the auction.
- During the auction, some of the tax deeds will get no bids and therefore not sell
- Some of the tax deeds DO sell but for only a small amount over the starting bid. Therefore, not enough in Surplus to go after. We offer records where the surplus is over $1,000
Now we are left with “Tax Deeds that successfully sold AND the winning bid was high enough to produce at least $1,000 in surplus”
Do I have to live in Florida or have a business registered in Florida to work with Florida Tax Deed Surplus?
No to both. There will come a time when your client (the person owed the surplus) will need to sign documents and have them notarized, so being able to go in person to them is a big plus. However, unless you live within driving distance, it doesn’t matter if you are 100 miles or 1200 miles from them, the process would be the same. You would need to mail documents to them so they can sign and return them to you. Or, better yet, we highly recommend hiring ‘Mobile Notaries‘ to visit the person.
Working the Records
The short answer is “ALL of the counties, ALL of the time”. If you limit yourself to one or two counties, you will quickly become disappointed and here is why:
All counties hold their auctions on different days and different intervals (weekly, monthly, every 2 months, etc). There are typically auctions every Monday through Thursday and occasionally some on Friday (but very few).
We provide surplus for every county that has their auctions online plus about 10 that hold auctions offline (Total of about 37 counties out of 67) and here is a general outlook on how many records we get each week from ALL of those counties combined…
Starting each week, there are about 300-600 tax deeds headed to auctions.
Before an auction even starts, roughly 50% of them get redeemed by the owner (they pay their taxes and save their property from being auctioned).
So then, we watch the auctions that are left to get the ending bid and determine IF there is surplus money left over.
Within those, about 20% receive NO bids and therefore produce no surplus.
10% receive bids but the surplus is not over $1000 so we don’t bother.
That leaves 20% (an average of about 75/week) where:
- Auction actually happened AND
- Surplus is over $1000 (anything less is really not worth going after)
THOSE go on our Surplus List and this is pretty much the list you could buy anywhere else or that the county will put out themselves months later. It is a bare bones list that is almost useless if you do not know what you are doing.
We then we add the Owner and their mailing address, plus locate and download the Property Information Report for you
You then need to know if there are liens on the property that are so high, it will take all the surplus.
In short, the records get dwindled down so much that you need all you can get your hands on from as many counties as possible, to make an impact and do well in this business.
Trying to stick with just one county will not do you any good.
There is ONE exception to this rule. You can go after the records in counties where they hold their auctions in person and they do not provide their tax deed documents and claim information online. These would be the counties that are the least saturated with asset recovery companies because so much more work is involved and in-person visits to the Clerks office are needed. If you happen to live in or near one of those counties, I would highly recommend you digging in there.
New counties are going online with their auctions all the time. However as of right now (6/2019) here is a list of the in-person auction counties that do not provide their documents online, therefore would be the least saturated by asset recovery companies who do not live near them.
On the surplus claim form you put owners name but then for mailing address you put
C/O Your Biz Name
Your Biz mailing address
There are banks that accept 3rd party checks, especially since its a check from a government entity (the county).
Here is a list that do accept 3rd party checks.
Now, instead of a Contingency Agreement + Power of Attorney Form, if you have the property owner sign an Assignment of Interest Form, then the county will put your name on the check because you are now the owner of the surplus funds.
Each county has their own Surplus Claim Form so the wording will be different, but for an example, here is a clip from Broward County Claim Form and how you fill it out.
This question falls more into the ‘salesmanship’ arena, which we do not teach. The methods you use to approach a previous owner will come to be customized by you and you will learn by doing. You will try, succeed or fail, learn and move on to the next. There is most definitely no ONE answer to how to handle this part. Over time you will get a feel for what to say to who by what they are saying to you.
There are some people who will receive a letter from you and be 100% in. They will call you and be ready for action. Then there are others who will have 20 questions before continuing and then others who will assume it is a scam the moment they hear your voice.
When we first began, our objective was to perform the actions of obtaining the good records of surplus and providing them to established asset recovery companies. We know how much work is involved in researching each record so we thought our service was a great time saver.
However, it soon became apparent that we needed to offer more in the way of training.
We do provide some information about the business part of it in the way of the forms needed for your clients, etc but Florida Overbids is mainly for training on “how to find and research the surplus records”.
We DO have 2 sample letters in our resources section that will give you ideas.
Something incredible happened recently that I want to share.
My adult son’s best friend was visiting and he asked me what work I do. I briefly explained the tax deed surplus recovery business and how I provide records to asset recovery businesses. He said his mother received a letter with something about that and that she called the number on the letter. She said she felt it may be a scam but really needed the money so she decided to call.
Knowing that there are so many types of unclaimed money floating around and the chances of her letter being about tax deed surplus were slim, I asked him if she’d be willing to let me have a look at the letter.
A week later, he brought the initial contact letter as well as a follow-up letter after her phone call to them and all documents needing to be signed and notarized. I quickly recognized this to be about tax deed surplus so I looked up the case online and sure enough, there was almost $30k to be claimed and the auction had happened in 2016 (today is 9/6/2018).
I was able to let her know it was NOT a scam and that she should follow through with it.
The point is that this letter worked!
Here is a redacted version of that initial contact letter. Anything in red is specific to this lady’s claim, so we left it out of the letter.
We create the list right after the auction, so at the point when we send the new records, you are guaranteed there has been no claim. However, the more time that passes after the auction, you ARE taking a chance that a claim was put in. This is why it is imperative you act fast on new records.
We do not go back and update our lists to show if a claim has been made or not. If you need to know if a claim was made on an older record, you can do that in one of two ways:
- Look up the Tax Deed documents using the methods on our website FloridaOverbids.com and some counties DO show you if a claim was made and by whom.
- We created a document and videos to train you how to do this
- Call the Clerk of Court for that county and ask them. They will need the Tax Deed # and Sale Date
- We created a document with the contact info for all 67 counties
Your Surplus Database Account
The process depends on where you registered your domain name.
If you use GoDaddy.com, here are the instructions:
You would “forward” the domain name to your CountyUnclaimed.com website address…
Now, let me point out that when you forward a domain name, they give you a choice of “with masking” and “without masking”.
With Masking, when someone types in your domain name and hits enter, that domain name will stay in the address bar while showing your website and when that is the case, then the SSL Security certificate we have installed on the website will not work to show your website is secure.
Without masking, when someone types in your domain name and hit enter, it forwards to your CountyUnclaimed.com website address and the SSL Security stays in place.
On SurplusDatabase.com, there are 3 subscription levels.
Only the Pro level has researched records. Which ones we research and what we provide depends on the amount of surplus.
The Property Information Report shows book and page #’s of liens for lookup
If the surplus is: Then we supply
Under $5,000: Neither the Property Information Report nor research on liens. However, we do supply you with a link, video and training on where to download the Property Information Report and how to research the liens.
Between $5k-15k: Property Information Report and a summary of possible liens (eg. “There are No liens”, “There are 3 gov’t liens and 1 mortgage) – This allows you to know if you’re interested in pursuing this one further. Just as mentioned above, we supply you with a link, video and training on how to research the liens on any record where the surplus is under $15k
Over $15k: Property Information Report and all liens researched with amount and type. Plus if it is a Judgment, we tell you to whom it is owed because you can pursue them as a client as well.
When you join, you have immediate access to all Surplus Records and Property Information Reports from the current year we are in, back to January 1.
You also have the option of purchasing older surplus records that go back to January 1, 2018. However, any record previous to when we began SurplusDatabase.com in August 2019, will not import into the online database we give you (They have different fields on the Excel file).
- Your website will reside on secure server so your website will have https:// in the address. This is so important and goes a long way in having people trust you and your website.
- Your website will reside under our domain name of CountyUnclaimed.com
- You can choose to use the web address of https://www.CountyUnclaimed.com/your-chosen-name
- OR if you have a domain name you would like to use, you can forward it to the above web address (Need Help? Submit a ticket on our Help Desk)
- Your website starts out just like the Demo version and then using our tutorials, you can make all of your edits.