Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to Locate a Foreclosure Notice in Georgia

By, Hugh Wood
Atlanta, Georgia

One of the most frustrating aspects of foreclosure in Georgia is the difficulty associated with locating the formal Notice of Sale Advertisement in the County Legal Organ.

My complaints about Georgia Legal Organs are that they have a monopoly on fundamental public information, public Notices and legal required advertisements. Georgia has 159 counties - the most in the nation, except Texas. [1] To find information on a foreclosure in a non-metro county, you have to locate an obscure newspaper (i.e., the Willacoochee Bi-Weekly Standard and Auto Trader Emporium) [2] being the Official Legal Organ [3] of that county. Then, you have to laboriously read every column of legal ads in the legal organ and find (if you can) your client’s legal advertisement. In metro counties, you can search the Legal Organ in DeKalb County, The Champion, or the Legal Organ in Fulton County, The Fulton County Daily Report, IF you purchase an online subscription. [4]

Finally, there is a newspaper (or perhaps only an online internet portal) that allows the general public to search for foreclosure advertisements without purchasing a copy of the Willacoochee Bi-Weekly Standard and Auto Trader Emporium or being forced to drive to Willachooee, Georgia and read it live off the press. Here then is the portal to all foreclosure advertisements in Georgia:


If you are in need of copies of Warranty Deeds, Quitclaim Deeds, Warranty Deeds and Assignments, you may locate those at the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority database. It is as follows:


This is NOT a forms database, but rather the semi-official database for all optical images of deeds and security deeds on file in all 159 Georgia Counties. It is not the final “official” word, since if you need a Certified Copy, you will still need to obtain that from the Clerk of the Superior Court in the appropriate County. It is, unfortunately, not a free service. If you have financial information on file, they will simply charge you 0.50 cents per page per document. If you are a first time visitor, you will need a credit card and be prepared to take a small haircut to get your documents. However, for those of us who had to trek to the hinterlands to get copies, it is a miracle database.

My guess is this will be one of the most helpful blog articles I post. If it helps you or your client, leave a comment. Thanks.

Happy Searching.

Hugh Wood, Esq.
Wood & Meredith, LLP
3756 LaVista Road
Suite 250
Atlanta (Tucker), GA 30084
twitter: USALawyer_
Phone: 404-633-4100
Fax: 404-633-0068


Although the source of the statement has never been verified, reportedly there was a rule of thumb in Georgia that every citizen should be within a one-day round trip by horse or wagon from the seat of county government. Jackson, Ed, A Brief History of Georgia Counties, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press (2005).

Willachoochee is not the County Seat of Atkinson County, Georgia. Pearson is the County Seat. But Willachoochee is the site of the “No Name Bar,” Lewis Grizzard’s favorite Bar and Watering Hole. Go Dawgs. Post Script: The Official Legal Organ is the Atkinson County Citizen.


If you need to locate an official Georgia Legal Organ, they may be found at: Legal Organs of Georgia.

The Statute Concerning Georgia Legal Organs is:

O.C.G.A. § 9-13-142. Requirements for official organ of publication; how official organ changed; notice to Secretary of State.

OCGA Sec. 9-13-142 Requirements for official organ of publication; how official organ changed; notice to Secretary of State.

(a) No journal or newspaper published in this state shall be declared, made, or maintained as the official organ of any county for the publication of sheriff's sales, citations of probate court judges, or any other advertising commonly known in terms of "official or legal advertising" and required by law to be published in such county official newspaper unless the newspaper shall meet and maintain the following qualifications:

(1) "Newspaper" as used in this Code section means a printed product of multiple pages containing not greater than 75 percent advertising content in no more than one-half of its issues during the previous 12 months, excluding separate advertising supplements inserted into but separately identifiable from any regular issue or issues of the newspaper;

(2) The newspaper shall be published within the county and continuously at least weekly for a period of two years or is the direct successor of such a newspaper. Failure to publish for not more than two weeks in any calendar year shall not disqualify a newspaper otherwise qualified;

(3) For a period of two years prior to designation and thereafter, the newspaper shall have and maintain at least 75 percent paid circulation as established by an independent audit. Paid circulation shall not include newspapers that are distributed free or in connection with a service or promotion at no additional charge to the ultimate recipient. For circulation to be considered paid, the recipient of the newspaper or such recipient's employer or household must pay reasonable and adequate consideration for the newspaper. No rules of circulation of audit companies, the United States Postal Service, or accounting principles may be considered in determining paid circulation if they are inconsistent with the provisions of this subsection;

(4) Based on the published results of the 1990 United States decennial census or any future such census, the newspaper shall have and maintain at least the following paid circulation within the county for which it is designated as the legal organ newspaper:

(A) Five hundred copies per issue in counties having a population of less than 20,000;

(B) Seven hundred fifty copies per issue in counties having a population of at least 20,000 but less than 100,000; or

(C) One thousand five hundred copies per issue in counties having a population of 100,000 or greater; and

(5) For purposes of this Code section, paid circulation shall include home or mail delivery subscription sales, counter, vendor and newsrack sales, and sales to independent newspaper contract carriers for resale. Paid circulation shall not include multiple copies purchased by one entity unless the multiple copies are purchased for and distributed to the purchaser's officers, employees, or agents, or within the purchaser's household.

(b) However, in counties where no journal or newspaper meets the qualifications set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section, the official organ may be designated by the judge of the probate court, the sheriff, and the clerk of the superior court, a majority of these officers governing from among newspapers otherwise qualified to be a legal organ that meet the minimum circulation in the preceding subsection for the county, or if there is no such newspaper, then the newspaper having the greatest general paid circulation in the county.

(c) Any selection or change in the official organ of any county shall be made upon the concurrent action of the judge of the probate court, the sheriff, and the clerk of the superior court of the county or a majority of the officers. No change in the official legal organ shall be effective without the publication for four weeks of notice of the decision to make a change in the newspaper in which legal advertisements have previously been published. All changes in the official legal organ shall be made effective on January 1 unless a change has to be made where there is no other qualified newspaper.

(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Code section, an official organ of any county meeting the qualifications under the statute in force at the time of its appointment and which was appointed prior to July 1, 1999, may remain the official organ of that county until a majority of the judge of the probate court, the sheriff, and the clerk of the superior court determine to appoint a new official organ for the county.

(e) During the month of December in each year, the judge of the probate court of each county shall notify the Secretary of State, on a form supplied by the Secretary of State, of the name and mailing address of the journal or newspaper currently serving as the official organ of the county. The judge of the probate court shall also likewise notify the Secretary of State of any change in the official organ of the county at the time that such change is made. The Secretary of State shall maintain at all times a current listing of the names and addresses of all county organs and shall make such list available to any person upon request.

(Laws 1850, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 580; Code 1863, § 3577; Code 1868, § 3600; Code 1873, § 3650; Code 1882, § 3650; Civil Code 1895, § 5460; Ga. L. 1910, p. 87, § 1; Code 1910, § 6065; Code 1933, §§ 39-1103, 39-1107; Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 271, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 1248, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1035, § 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 528, § 1; Ga. L. 1999, p. 6, § 2.)


In fairness to the metro legal organs, there are some ways to search for information without purchasing an online subscription. However, it is a barebones search with no bells and whistles and no access to other important and relevant news content.



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