Life after foreclosure does exist, and there may even be an opportunity to get some money back into your pocket. While not available in all cases, a homeowner that has equity in their house at the time of foreclosure, meaning they owe less than the house is worth, is entitled to the Excess Proceeds of Sale after the foreclosure under Arizona law. Additionally, there are circumstances when even an upside down home owner will be entitled to excess proceeds, and that money after foreclosure can be substantial.
When a homeowner loses a home to Trustee’s Sale/foreclosure and that homeowner had equity in the property those excess proceeds are to go to the homeowner provided no other creditors hold a claim. As a part of the excess proceeds claims process, anyone with a recorded interest in the property (lien holders, attorneys, etc) has the right to make a claim for monies owed. For example, if a home foreclosed when the homeowner owed $100,000 and the fair market value of the home at the time of foreclosure was $200,000; the $100,000 excess proceeds remaining is up for grabs to those parties with a recorded interest, including the homeowner. The remaining $100,000 excess proceeds from our example must be distributed to any junior lien holders, and goes towards the fees for foreclosure incurred by the foreclosing lien holder. Once all distributions have been made, the remaining excess proceeds belong to the homeowner that was foreclosed on.
Who Has the Excess Proceeds After Foreclosure
Any excess proceeds remaining after all distributions that are equal to or exceeding $50 will be turned over to the AZ Department of Revenue where the Treasurer holds the funds until they are claimed by an interested party like the homeowner through a court action (explained below). If you believe your house may have had equity when it was foreclosed, you can view the current list of Unclaimed Sale Proceeds through this link: http://treasurer.maricopa.gov/excessproceeds/.
Claiming Your Equity After Foreclosure
The process of claiming excess proceeds is not as simple as notifying the State Treasurer and collecting the money. The claims processes takes approximately 90-120 days and requires a formal filing similar to a law suit against the Treasurer. It is a process that can be completed pro se (self representation) by following the steps within the self-service packet from the superior court. You should consider hiring an attorney to handle this process on your behalf. You will, however, want to be extremely thorough in your selection of whom you choose to assist you as there are many fraudulent companies promoting their services to assist homeowners that had equity in their foreclosed homes.
Third party sources cannot charge more than $2500 for their fees. A.R.S. § 33-812 directs the order in which money is paid.
For more information or assistance in the excess proceeds process, feel free to consult the Wells Law Group. Our Arizona real estate attorneys are happy to assist you with any Arizona real estate questions. We can be reached at 480-428-3290 or info@WellsRealtyLaw.com.