If Foreclosure information is Public Domain, Where do I Find It?

Public records are only public if you can find them.

April 6, 2008 – Palm Coast, FL – Foreclosure filings are a part of the public record, but few know where to  find them. All they see are the cryptic legal notices in the newspaper. The information IS available, but it’s not necessarily easy to find. It takes some practice.
Foreclosures start when the borrower’s mortgage payment is one month overdue. At that point, the borrower is in default. In the past, lenders had their collections departments contact the borrower, pressing for payments to bring the loan current. Once a loan was three months in arrears, they would move to foreclose. Today, lenders are more likely to foreclose more quickly.
The first step in a foreclosure proceeding is the filing of a Lis Pendens (a legal term) by the lender against the property owner. This is the first “public” notice. It signifies that a legal action has been initiated affecting the property. While Lis Pendens can be filed for multiple reasons, the most common is foreclosure. Lis Pendens are “noticed” in the local newspaper only if the property owner (defendant) cannot be served personally, but are always posted to the Flagler County Clerk of Court’s website (search records), which lists all legal filings, including deeds, mortgages, liens, and Lis Pendens. Search by “document type,” selecting Lis Pendens and the appropriate date range. Any Lis Pendens filed by a financial institution (lender) is probably a foreclosure. To be sure, click on the lender name link to display the actual Lis Pendens document. It will list the cause of action. Look for the term “foreclosure.” There is also a brief legal description of the property, giving block and lot number and, sometimes, subdivision. If you want to know the actual address of the property, you need to go to the Flagler County Property Appraiser’s website. Click on Search Records. Search using the property owner’s name from the Lis Pendens. If the property owner has several properties, you may need to reference the block and lot numbers from the Lis Pendens filing.
The Lis Pendens filing precedes the foreclosure sale by a few to many months. After filing the Lis Pendens, the plaintiff (lender) applies to the court for a deficiency judgment, then a final judgment. Once a final judgment is issued, the plaintiff requests a foreclosure sale. All foreclosure sales are announced twice in the local paper. They are also posted on the County Clerk’s (click on public sales) website. Again, the sale posting gives only the abbreviated legal description. You will need to visit the property appraiser’s website to find the property address. Remember, it takes some practice.
You can also use the clerk’s website to determine the original amount of the mortgage by searching the clerk’s website using the owner’s name. Sales are at the courthouse at 11 A.M. They are usually quick, boring, and uneventful. That’s because the lender enters the “contest” with a credit equal to the deficiency judgment (outstanding loan balance plus foreclosure costs). Typically, the lender’s representative at the sale has been instructed to bid up to the loan amount, but if the property has decreased in value, they may be instructed to stop at a lesser amount. In the handful of foreclosure sales I’ve witnessed, no one bid against the plaintiff, who won the auction with a minimum bid of $100.
2 replies
  1. LindaR
    LindaR says:

    What Happens Next

    OK. So I went today to view a foreclosure sale. No one was there but the plaintiff, representing the bank. He was the only bidder, and took ownership of the property for $1000. So what happens next? And who gets that $1000?

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