Homeowners who gave up might get foreclosure refund
Saturday, June 20, 2009
by Lisa Donovan
Call it a green lining on the cloud of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
Homeowners who handed the keys over to the bank may actually have
some money coming their way, and in Cook County, a new online system
may help nearly 2,000 property owners get their due.
The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court is holding approximately
$18 million in mortgage foreclosure surplus funds -- profits generated
when the bank sells a property for more than what the original owner
owed the lending institution.
The county has identified about 1,900 onetime owners who are owed
money as a result of foreclosure sales in the last decade, and Circuit
Court Clerk Dorothy Brown has launched a campaign to get the word out.
In one case, a property owner could collect $460,000, she said.
So many people turn the keys over to the bank and don't look back -- and that's why the money has accumulated, Brown said.
"I think the problem has been, people want to close that chapter of
their lives and many times people just feel so bad, they feel that once
they lose their property, it's all gone. Nothing belongs to them. The
equity in the property isn't there. But I'm trying to get the word out
that that isn't true," Brown said.
Nationally, about 2 million homes were in foreclosure, Fortune
magazine reports. And Cook County is at a 10-year high with 43,726
homeowners in default in 2008 and a projected 50,286 this year,
according to Brown's office.
Go to www.cookcountyclerkof court.org and head to the
mortgage surplus search engine, which will allow you to put in your
name. If there's a match, begin the process of petitioning the court
for your money.
Cook County residents can also visit the clerk's accounting office for more information.