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Millions of dollars in limbo for Fulton homeowners | Business

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Millions of dollars in limbo for Fulton homeowners

ATLANTA -- The Fulton County Sheriff has millions of dollars in a special fund and some of it may belong to you.

Each month, county officials and the banks auction foreclosed homes as well as hold tax lien sales on the courthouse steps.

When it comes to tax lien sales, homeowners should take a deep breath and another look before they walk away from the sales. They could be entitled to lots of money.

It's in the hands of the Fulton County Sheriff.

It starts with the sale of the tax lien, in which buyers often pay more than the lien itself in order to get it. Any money left over after the tax lien purchaser gets his money back, together with a 20 percent commission, goes into a Fund administered by the Sheriff.

That fund now totals $9.9 million.

Much of that money could belong to homeowners who have never claimed it.

But the Fulton County Sheriff's Office says homeowners must be aggressive to claim the money once they have been notified that the cash is there and that they have a claim to it.

"All they simply have to do is fill out applications and as long as there are no pending liens against the property they may be entitled to those funds," said Melinda Wilkins of the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

A leading Atlanta real estate attorney, David McAlister, of Arnall Golden Gregory says he cannot understand why more homeowners don't come forward to claim the cash.

"It surprises me that people are not making claims for the proceeds that are there. Whether it's because they don't understand their rights or it's because it just looks so complicated when they see the forms from the County, or whether it's because they don't have several hundred dollars to spend on a title report to make a claim for the money, I don't know," McAlister said.

McAlister says it could cost homeowners several hundred dollars to prepare and file Affidavits, title reports and other documents. But the rewards could be well worth it.

The millions are there. They just aren't going anywhere.