STEP 1: Obtain a source of tax deed surplus records

Yes, there are many more types of surplus records (unclaimed money) laying around, however, we only teach about the surplus from Tax Deed Auctions that happen in the Florida counties, so we will focus on that type only.

Where to obtain a continual source of surplus records?

  1. You could manually seek them out yourself. The best way is to perform the following searches on Google.  Fill in different county names for separate searches.
    • Tax Deed Surplus ________ County
    • Tax Deed Overbids ________ County
    • Tax Deed Overages ________ County
    • Unclaimed Surplus ________ County
  2. You can buy surplus lists from another company who seeks them out and collects the same information the counties give. A lot of counties will put out their own surplus lists periodically. Their intent is to help property owners claim their surplus. The counties do not do anything to assist Asset Recovery Specialists because that does not fall into the realm of their duties. They are, however, required by law to send out a notice of surplus to the property owner who lost their property in an auction. They send that letter to the property address that was already auctioned and therefore, most owners never receive that letter. Doesn’t matter to the county, they fulfilled their duty.
    Now, when a surplus list is uploaded online by a county, typically months or even a year has passed since that auction date. You will find that those records were already picked over and claimed a loooong time ago. It is imperative that you obtain surplus records as soon after the auction is over as possible.
    On this page, we provide a link to where and how this county provides their surplus lists, IF they do. If not, we try to show how you can create your own list from what they DO provide online. You can try this method, but we guarantee every property owner you contact will say they have already signed with another Asset Recovery Company.
  3. You can subscribe to a Surplus List service that provides surplus lists fresh, each day, after the auctions happen. We have 2 websites that do this: TaxAuctionSurplus.com and SurplusDatabasePro.com

STEP 2: Scan your list to determine if any are records you want to pursue

There will always be a moment where you look at a record and just know you want to skip it.  Some people do not want to work with records where the owner is deceased, or the owner is a business. Or you may not want to go after records where the surplus is under $10,000 or the owner lives overseas, etc.

The big one is if the owner is deceased.

In Florida, you do not have to be an Attorney or Private Investigator to be an Asset Recovery Specialist. In fact, you don’t even need a business license (though we highly recommend you become as professional as possible). However, if the property owner is deceased and their estate has NOT been through probate, then you will need a lawyer to assist you.

STEP 3: If working with older records, check to see if the surplus is still available (not claimed)

Look in the ‘Resources’ section for our document and training on how to work with older records.

STEP 4: Download/obtain the property information report to see if there are any liens on the property

Don’t get excited when you see a surplus record with $150,000 in surplus because there just might be a $300,000 mortgage on the property that MAY** take the surplus

You must find out if there are liens on the property and then decide your best course of action.

The counties are required to have a Property Information Report created for each tax deed being auctioned. This is so they know who to notify about the auction happening. They must notify everyone and every business that may have an interest in what is happening.

The Property Information Report will mention any liens by telling you the Book and Page Number or Instrument Number of that lien. Then you take those numbers and look them up on the county’s Official Record website to see what type of lien and how much it is.  This is very important to do because you could have a surplus record of $30,000 and just one “lot mowing lien” for $50… that would make the record still very much worth pursuing.

Check the Lien Research Tab in the Resources Section for instructions on how to research the liens

We obtain the Property Information Report for you if the surplus is over $5,000. If it is under $5,000 and you still want to pursue it, we have training on how to obtain the Property Report in the Resources Section below.

**We say MAY take the surplus because all lienholders (except the IRS) have a deadline to put in a claim. If they miss the deadline (which happens very frequently), they forever lose the ability to claim that surplus and all of the money is due to the property owner.

A link to the Property Information Reports can be found in the same section where you obtain your Surplus Lists

Step 5: Locate and contact the property owner

With our Surplus Records, we give you the owners name and mailing address. Many times, the owner of the property never lived there, they were renting it out, etc.
Therefore, it’s pretty easy obtaining their current address, because we give it to you.

However, there are also plenty of times you will need to ‘skip trace’ or locate the person. Some consider this the most difficult part of the process. You may think you need a Private Investigator or Professional Skip Tracer to locate these property owners, but mostly that is not true. With the wealth of information available online for free, you can locate these people.

We have a guide to show you how to “Skip Trace Using Public Records” – check in the “Resources Section”

Step 6: Decide on the route to take with your client & sign papers

There are 2 routes you can take as far as the forms you will be using. They are shown below with links to download the forms you need.

  1. Contingency Agreement (Word Doc) (Example) + Power of Attorney (Word Doc) (Example)
  2. Assignment of Interest (Word Doc) (Example)

You will also need a W-9 Form. The counties will typically give you one, but if you have it ready and submit with your claim, the process is faster.

Check the “Resources Section” for the training on the “Contract Routes to Take with Clients” to learn about the different routes.

Step 7: Gather all documents needed

***You can easily and quickly create a Claim Package and Document Checklist if you are a client on either TaxAuctionSurplus.com or SurplusDatabasePro.com – You just need the “Search ID” for the particular record, which you can find on the surplus lists we give you.

Besides the forms and agreements between you and your client, you will also need to submit certain documents, depending on the route you take.

We have a flowchart showing you which items you need for the path you take. 

Step 8: Download the County Surplus Claim Form below and fill it out

Download Surplus Claim Form

Step 9: Submit your claim package to the county

Mail your Surplus Claim Package to:

Okaloosa County Clerk of Court
Attn: Tax Deeds
1940 Lewis Turner Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Contact the County: 

Email or Web Form:  http://www.okaloosaclerk.com/index.php/contact-jd
Phone: 850-689-5000

Step 10: THE most important step – always do this

Start over with step 1

Do NOT sit around waiting for one claim to work it’s way through the system. Keep going!