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Specific to Florida Counties

No to both.  A lot of people are under the impression that you do. However, that is pertaining ONLY to unclaimed property being held by the STATE unclaimed property division shown on https://www.fltreasurehunt.gov

Tax Deed Surplus is held by the individual counties and are governed by their own laws. You do not even have to have a business license (but we suggest you do).

New counties are putting their auctions online all the time, so this number changes. You can always see a current list of counties we track here.

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:

  1. 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
  2. Have all papers filled, signed and notarized
  3. Give to County Clerk of Court (Mail, Fax, In Person)
  4. 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.

Example:

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 Starting Bid $55,000, Ending Bid $55,100 so the surplus is only $100 – definitely not worth pursuing

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

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.

There is never a deadline for the property owner, only lien holders.

The previous home owner can (and should) put in a claim right away. If they do not and the county turns it over to the state, the previous owner can still claim it from Florida State’s unclaimed website.

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.

To make completely sure the lien holder deadline has passed, consider 210 days (120 + 90 days for the county to ‘do their thing’) after the date of the auction to be the actual lien holder deadline.

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.

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.

41 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.

We keep an updated list of the counties we track here.

01/24/2021:  New counties are being added all the time. When we began is this company in 2018 only 34 counties provided their documents online. There are now 41 and there are a few more set to go online very soon.

We also need to know the start and end bid for the properties. If a county does not provide those online, we do not track the surplus. This does not mean YOU cannot go after the surplus…you would just need to do a little more work yourself (contacting the Clerk of Court)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. During the auction, some of the tax deeds will get no bids and therefore not sell
  3. 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”

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.

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