Summit County is chipping away at the massive backlog of foreclosed property deeds that need to be transferred.
“We hope we are caught up within the next six to eight weeks, at the latest,” Sheriff Steve Barry said.
The county has been running months behind in transferring deeds, aggravating home buyers, investors and real estate agents.
The issue came to a head in March, when area agents and brokers complained publicly. They said home buyers were walking away from deals, properties were sitting vacant and agents were losing sales because of the lengthy delays.
“We understand their concerns and are moving as fast as we can,” said Barry, who met with the Akron Area Board of Realtors to discuss the problem.
Barry, who was elected last fall and has been in office only a few months, said he has devoted more staff and is using overtime to reduce the backlog. There are now seven employees working on deeds, and one more worker will be hired.
Before, there were three.
“We understand there is a plan in place and that staff members have been shifted to the civil division by emergency transfers to work through the delays,” said Tony DeLuke, president of the Akron Area Board of Realtors. “It’s going to take time to see the impact of these changes.
“We look forward to this process being unencumbered by backlog. These transactions are critical to the overall health of the real estate market and the stability of our neighborhoods.”
Barry has blamed the problem on such issues as reduced staffing because of budget cuts and a swell in the number of auctioned properties. The sheriff has sold nearly 10,000 properties at weekly foreclosure auctions over the past five years — an average of nearly 40 per week.
The sheriff’s office is responsible for transferring the deed to a new owner after a foreclosure and auction. Until the property is transferred, home buyers can’t close on financing with their mortgage lenders or take ownership of the property.
In cases where banks or investors buy foreclosed properties, they can’t resell them until the deed is transferred into their names.
The entire process should take only about 30 days, and it also involves the clerk of courts and fiscal office, Barry said.
Home buyer Todd Anderson said he has been told the office is working on deeds from December.
Anderson, 30, has found himself homeless while the county processes the deed to his new house, which he purchased from a bank in March.
He sold his old home thinking he would be able to move into his new home in Clinton, but the deed delay scrapped those plans.
He is living with friends, and his fiancee and 2-year-old daughter are living with his fiancee’s family.
“The horrible thing about it is [the house is] completely empty and it’s ready to be moved into,” Anderson said. “Everybody is just waiting for the county to figure it out. It’s stalling the economy. I want to spend money, and the bank wants its money.”
Anderson said he called the sheriff’s office to share his story and was told his deed would be expedited because of his situation. Still, he’s expecting to be living with friends for the next two or three weeks.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.