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Arapahoe County Has Money For Some Who Lost To Foreclosure
Funds in excess of loan amount returned to former ownersBy Peter Jones
There may be a bright side to life after foreclosure – believe it or not – and the Arapahoe County Public Trustee’s Office is trying to shine a little light on it.About 30 onetime county residents who lost their homes during the recent U.S. foreclosure crisis could be getting a check of between $500 and $200,000 if their name is on a list of recipients who are owed money from their former home’s sale. Those several dozen former homeowners have been difficult to locate in an era of fewer landlines and changing addresses, Public Trustee Cynthia Mares said.“We do everything we can to locate them,” she said. “We want them to get their money. We don’t want to have to go searching for them.”The money is waiting because the individuals’ foreclosed former homes sold for more than was owed on their defaulted loans. The recent rise in home prices followed a period when many of the same owners were unable to sell their homes at prices that allowed them to avoid foreclosure.“For some reason, we seem to be getting more activity on this than other counties. The market is turning up a little bit more,” Mares said. “Last year, we probably had a few overbids, but not much. Now, we’re seeing so much action on this.”The trustee will hold such excess proceeds – currently totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – until the former homeowners collect the money. But if the money is not claimed within five years, the assets are sent to the Colorado State Treasurer’s Great Colorado Payback, which makes further efforts to contact those who have legal claim to a wide variety of lost accounts and vacated funds.Mares says those who have had their homes foreclosed in the last five years should check her office’s website or contact the Public Trustee’s Office to find out if their name is on the list. Assistance from any outside agent to assist with the process is unnecessary and potentially expensive, she said.“We get these calls constantly from agents wanting to find this money for individuals,” Mares said. “If the agent finds them before we do, not knowing that we’re not going to do anything with that money but look for the homeowner, they could be charged as much as 40 percent.”Mares recommends former homeowners contact the Colorado Supreme Court or the Attorney General’s Office if they believe they have been unfairly charged.The trustee’s office has posted the names of overbid recipients on its website and has sent legal notices on the matter to such newspapers as The Villager, but inevitably some former homeowners remain elusive.To contact the trustee’s office, call 303-730-0071 or visit www.arapahoegov.com.
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