A glut of foreclosed properties has swamped the Summit County sheriff’s office, where layoffs have reduced the personnel available to transfer deeds after sheriff’s sales. The result is a backlog that has led to delays of from one to six months, with some homebuyers walking away and real estate agents losing sales to other counties where deeds are more quickly processed.
As one agent, Cece Fox, told staff writer Rick Armon, properties sitting vacant are in danger of damage from the elements and vandals. That hurts entire neighborhoods, affecting property values and inviting criminal activity. Recently, the Akron Area Board of Realtors appropriately pressed Steve Barry, the new sheriff, for action.
Barry’s response reflects both tight staffing throughout his department and the complicated task of getting deed transfers right. He is planning to hire a new clerk, bringing the work force for that job up to four, still far from the 10 in 2008. He will also transfer two clerical workers familiar with the work back to processing deeds on an emergency basis, for approximately three months, and use overtime to further reduce the backlog.
Barry deserves credit for responding quickly to do what he can. Beyond handling the crisis in the short term, the new sheriff must continue to keep a close eye on deed transfers and keep the administration and the County Council aware of the resources his office needs to prevent the kind of problems that can inflict damage on neighborhoods throughout the county.