In initial vote, Palm Beach County requires banks to register foreclosed homes

Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

By Jennifer Sorentrue

Published July 31, 2011

Palm Beach County commissioners on Thursday tentatively agreed to require banks to register their abandoned and foreclosed homes to let the community keep closer tabs on vacant properties.

Commissioners voted unanimously to create a foreclosure registry that will require banks to provide names, phone numbers and email addresses of property managers responsible for keeping up thousands of abandoned homes in the county's unincorporated areas and posting the information at the houses so that neighbors know to whom they can complain.

A final vote will be held Aug. 16.

Federal Property Registration Corp., based in Melbourne, would be hired to run the program, under the county's plan. Banks would pay $150 to register properties, county managers have proposed. Lenders would have 10 days to register after a notice of legal action against a property is filed in court.

Under the proposal, the registration fee would be split between the company and the county. The county would use its share of the money to repair abandoned homes and help enforce codes.

Money spent fixing up vacant property could be recouped when the home is sold, officials said.

Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said she was concerned that the registry would also apply to occupied homes in the foreclosure process. "Sometimes when these properties are in default they are actually occupied," Taylor said.

The Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches has expressed similar concerns. Banks often file for foreclosure while a homeowner seeks approval of a short sale or a loan modification, said Dionna Hall, the association's senior vice president.

A notice of initial legal action "does not mean your home may be foreclosed on," Hall told the commission.