It could be an early holiday gift: Are you among the hundreds of thousands of homeowners nationwide owed a refund from federal housing officials?
More than $400 million in refunds are owed to homeowners who overpaid mortgage insurance payments on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans years back.
And now, there's an easy way for homeowners to check and see if they’re on the list.
But NBC 5 Responds found many who said they had no idea they had a federal IOU waiting for them.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Homeowners like Wendy Young in Dallas, Texas.
"That was a pretty little happy moment there," Young said after NBC 5 Responds in Dallas informed her she was owed more than $1,700.
Young said the money back in her pocket made a huge difference.
"It all totaled up to the amount of a mortgage payment for me, a monthly mortgage payment," Young said.
Young is not alone. Here in Chicago, Raul and Teresa Magana in Logan Square were astonished when NBC 5 shared the news they too were owed big money.
"Your refund, Raul and Teresa Magana, is $4,172.55," Raul Magana said, reading off a printout explaining the details of their refund. "This is going to help a lot of my family."
All of these homeowners had one thing in common: Years back, they took out FHA loans that required mortgage insurance, and they all overpaid on premiums.
Now, officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have lists of homeowners across the country who are owed money.
Tens of thousands of IOU’s, to be exact.
Nationally, HUD's figures show it has nearly 800,000 unpaid cases totaling more than $401 million. HUD told NBC 5 Responds it tries to contact those owed this money, but many homeowners we tracked down said they hadn’t heard a word about it before our calls.
"It’s because they're not looking," said Juana Sanchez of Humboldt Park, who found out she was owed more than $600.
Are you owed a refund? To find out if you are owed money, you can search your name in the database below or click here. If you’re on the list, click here to find your refund on HUD’s website, and start the process towards obtaining it. More information on that process below.
The process for retrieving your refund could require patience.
NBC 5 found the process for HUD verifying a person is owed these funds, and then actually paying it out, could take anywhere from four to 12 weeks.
If a homeowner finds their name on the list, the next step is to contact a HUD representative in order to start the refund application process.
That process includes homeowners receiving a form – labeled a “Form HUD-27050-B” – tailored specifically to them from HUD officials. The agency told NBC 5 it will only share that form with a homeowner by mail through the Postal Service and is working to reduce the amount of documentation homeowners are required to provide to get their refunds.
Still, homeowners who have gone through the process said it was worth it.
"Go ahead and look at the HUD website and just check. You never know," Young said.