Foreclosure Article

Recovering Excess Proceeds After Foreclosure of Your Home

In Arizona, a home is typically foreclosed through a process known as a Trustee Sale. A Trustee’s Sale is when an individual or firm (the Trustee) holds an auction to sell the home in an attempt to recover the balance owed to the foreclosing lender.

During the downturn in the real estate market, the purchase price at auction was typically at or less than the loan balance owed to the lender.  However, with the recent upturn in the real estate market, we are now seeing purchase prices that are over the amount owed to the foreclosing lender.  The amount by which the purchase price at auction exceeds the balance owed the foreclosing lender is known as Excess Proceeds.


$ 135,000   Price the property sold for at Trustee Sale auction

-  100,000   Loan balance amount owed to foreclosing lender at time of auction

$    35,000  Excess Proceeds


In the above example, $100,000 from the sale proceeds goes to pay the amount owed to the foreclosing lender.  The question is who is entitled to the remaining $35,000 in Excess Proceeds?  Generally, the Excess Proceeds first go to junior voluntary lienholders and then to the homeowner whose home was foreclosed.

Voluntary lienholders are lenders to whom the homeowner voluntarily gives an interest in the home.  Two common examples are your mortgage company (both your primary home loan and your secondary home equity loan) and a homeowner’s association (a junior voluntary lienholder).  By signing the mortgage, you voluntarily give the lender an interest in your home; and by purchasing a home within a community development you voluntarily give the homeowner’s association an interest in your home.

Involuntary lienholders are creditors who sue to get a judgment against you.  A common example is a credit card company that sues, gets a judgment against you for the amount owed on the credit card, and then records that judgment as a lien against your home.

Let’s add a few facts to the example above.  In addition to the $100,000 loan being foreclosed, there is a 2nd mortgage for $20,000 and a credit card judgment lien of $20,000.  Under this scenario, $100,000 goes to pay the amount owed to the foreclosing lender, with the $35,000 in Excess Proceeds being distributed as follows:  $20,000 to the 2nd mortgage (junior voluntary lienholder) and $15,000 to the homeowner. The credit card company (involuntary lienholder) gets nothing.

So how does the foreclosed homeowner know if there are Excess Proceeds available?  The Trustee is required to mail a notice to the homeowner’s last known address.  The problem is the last known address is usually the foreclosed property, which the homeowner has vacated without providing a forwarding address.

The homeowner, armed with the knowledge that a Trustee Sale can generate Excess Proceeds, should track the Trustee Sale process.  Call the Trustee’s office the day after the sale is scheduled to take place.  Ask the Trustee’s office if the sale was postponed (note: the Trustee is not required to provide you written notice of the postponement) or completed?  If the Trustee’s sale was postponed, ask the Trustee’s office for the new sale date. If the Trustee’s sale was completed, ask: Are there Excess Proceeds from the sale?  When will the Trustee be depositing the proceeds with the county treasurer and filing the required lawsuit?  Inform the Trustee that you are the foreclosed homeowner and want to make a claim for the Excess Proceeds.  Provide the Trustee with your new address and send a confirming letter (by both certified mail/return receipt requested and regular mail) to the Trustee with your new address and contact information.  

Excess proceeds can remain on deposit with the county treasurer for up to 2 years. Certain deadlines begin to run when the Trustee deposits the Excess Proceeds and files the lawsuit. Upon receiving notice that the lawsuit has been filed, you should immediately contact one of the legal aid offices listed below for free legal help in recovering Excess Proceeds.

You can apply online for free legal help here or click here for a directory of legal assistance in Arizona.

This article provides general information about Excess Proceeds.  It does not address your specific factual circumstances and should not be relied on as legal advice.  Please contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.



  • As a renter in a property that is going up for sale on 4-22-08, how long do I have to move and find a place to live? The owner will not return my phone calls or my money?
  • My proprty is seduced to be sold today at a Trustee's auction. I had a new loan approved for past two weeks that would pay the existing note in full, the trustee deliberately withheld the final payoff statement until 4:59 p.m. on the day prior to the foreclosure, making it impossible to fund on the new loan in time to stop the sale. Is there anything we can do to stop the sale and buy ourselves a few days to get the new loan closed?
  • The home we are renting is set to go to Trustee Auction at the end of this month. The "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" expired 12/31/2014. What are my rights as a tenant now that this has expired. Can I be evicted without I still have to receive ample notice if the new owner wishes to occupy the home?
  • I am curious about the 90 day requirement to file a lawsuit for a deficiency on a foreclosed home. In my case, I had a purchase money loan and a second mortgage from the same lender. After the foreclosure, the lender has continued to keep the second mortgage in an "open" status. Is the lender barred from suing on the second mortgage past 90 days of foreclosure or do they have up to the 6 year AZ statute of limitations to sue?
  • My family and I had moved into our new home after paying six months in advance and signing our lease . One and half months into being our home , the sheriffs arrived at our door saying that they had put warning's on our house, though we never saw any . Conveniently, our landlord was nowhere to be found . What agency will help us get into A home and help with a couple month's rent?
  • How do I find out if there is a sale date for my home that is in foreclosure?
  • what assistance is available to me I was 12 months behind caught up on six in September and they started foreclosure this month sell date is Feb of 2015 I thought they were working with me and no notice foreclosure.? my husband was on unemployment for over 4 years and recently is now working and we are able to catch up and stay on track.
  • There is a scam going on with my house and reference for foreclosure need legal assistance ASAP I am disabled and need help my phone number is I need immediate help. Thank you
  • What is the actual process for evicting a homeowner after the property has been foreclosed, including timeframes?


  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .



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