The below information is reprinted by permission. It is the exclusive copyrighted property of the Fulton County Daily Report, Incisive Media © 2008. All rights reserved.
Foreclosure notices may seem hard to read and even harder to understand. In fact they contain information homeowners, neighborhoods, homebuyers and investors need to know. Each month, as Fulton County's official legal newspaper, the Daily Report publishes hundreds upon hundreds of foreclosure notices.
How Foreclosure Works
When a person borrows money to buy real estate, such as a house or condominium, the loan is called a mortgage and requires monthly payments. In Georgia, if the property owner falls behind in making those payments, the lender can step in and sell the house at auction to settle the debt. Doing so is known as foreclosing on a property.
These auctions take place the first Tuesday of every month (or the first Wednesday if the first Tuesday falls on a holiday) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the steps of the county courthouse. For property located in Fulton County, the auctions take place in downtown Atlanta on the front steps of the Fulton County Courthouse at 136 Pryor Street.
Georgia law allows lenders to conduct an auction without having to go before a judge on one condition: The lender must give the borrower - and the public - proper, legal notice of its plans to foreclose. Proper notification means advertising in the county's official legal newspaper. In Fulton County, that official newspaper is, of course, the Daily Report. The lender must advertise its intent to foreclose once a week for the four consecutive weeks leading up to the "first Tuesday" sale date. To auction off a property the first Tuesday of March, for example, a lender must have published a foreclosure notice during each of the four weeks of February.
How to Use the Information
- Property Owners: Protect Your Interests
During the weeks leading up to the courthouse auction date, many property owners are able to work things out with their lenders, seek bankruptcy protection or line up other arrangements to prevent the bank from selling off their homes. If your lender has started foreclosure proceedings against your property, these listings provide you with an e alert - over and above the official notice published in full in the Daily Report - to take action.
- Neighbors: Know What's Going On
Use these listings to stay informed about your neighborhood. By law, and for important reasons of public policy, foreclosure notices are for the public to see. They can tell you whether you have a neighbor in need. They can help answer questions you might have about abandoned or poorly maintained property near you. They can give you insights into property values in your neighborhood. Indeed, a foreclosure taking place in your neighborhood can affect your own property values.
- Homebuyers, Investors: Find a Bargain
Foreclosure notices provide valuable leads to prospective homebuyers and real estate investors. Houses facing foreclosure often go for bargain prices. These listings, organized by zip code and street address, can help you spot those potential bargains. The summary information, of course, is just a starting point - a lead for you to follow up on with your own research and initiative. In addition to bidding for a house on the courthouse steps, there are ways to buy the property in advance of foreclosure by dealing directly with the lender's attorney or the property owner, both generally listed on this web site. But be warned: Buying a house facing foreclosure is not for the faint of heart. In general, you must buy the property as is without opportunity for inspection. You have to pay with cash or certified check. And all sales are final. To say the least, make sure you do your homework, do a complete title search, consult with a professional and, above all else, think twice.
- Lenders: Protect Your Interests
Many properties are subject to more than one loan, such as a home equity loan or second mortgage. If the lender holding the first mortgage sells the property off at foreclosure, the rights of the secondary lenders may well be wiped out. If you have lent someone money against his or her property, or if you hold a lien, these listings provide you with an e alert - in addition to the official notice published in full in the Daily Report - so that you can take action to protect your interests.
Words of Caution
Neither the Daily Report nor The Atlanta Voice is responsible for any errors or omissions in these listings. The information appearing on this web site is neither official nor complete, but merely an abstract of the first - run foreclosure notices appearing in the Daily Report. For the complete and official notice of foreclosure, consult the printed Daily Report. Information in the official notices comes directly from the lenders with no independent verification. These listings do not include any subsequent cancellations or subsequent corrections lenders may have made to their notices.
Just because a property is advertised for foreclosure does not necessarily mean it is in foreclosure or that the owner is in arrears. Some notices result from misunderstandings. Oftentimes matters are worked out (or halted) well in advance of the auction date but after the notice has been submitted for publication. Just because a property isn't listed here doesn't mean it's not in foreclosure. Again, these listings are by no means the official notice.
The person listed as owner may not necessarily be the present title holder. Mortgage value information merely reflects the amount of the original loan amount as listed in the foreclosure notice, not the balance due and not the value of the property.
Neither the Daily Report nor The Atlanta Voice is responsible for any investment decisions based on this information. Neither do they make any representations regarding title or the existence of any liens or encumbrances. Readers of these listings should do their own research and consult a real estate, legal or investment professional.