Gwinnett Foreclosed and Vacant Properties May Be Required to Register… For A Fee

Today, I learned of a proposed change to the Gwinnett County Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO) which would implement a fee based registration process for all foreclosed and vacant properties within the county.  Should the proposed change become approved, all current PMO standards would remain the same.  The change would be the addition of the “fee based” registration process for each of these structures.  My belief is, the intent of this process is to assist in the enforcement of the current PMO standards.  I would love to see our community preserved and property owners held accountable for damages we all suffer as a result of abandoned properties.  However, I’m not sure a tax – oops, I mean fee based registration process is the answer.  Property ownership can currently be identified through deeds and tax records, both on file with the county.  When a property is foreclosed, it is then deeded into the name of the new owner which could be an individual, corporation or a financial institution.

Believe me; I understand how very difficult it can be to determine current ownership/contact information for properties.  Lengthy delays in deed recordation can often make the task quite challenging.  These delays are not the sole fault of the county, either.  The county can only process what it’s given.  The big “foreclosure mills” (closing attorney groups who handle massive cases of foreclosures) must submit the paperwork for proper and timely deed recordation.  By the way… the foreclosures are handled right there on the courthouse steps.  Why then wouldn’t the contact information be available making enforcement of the current PMO standards effective?

With that said, maybe a more efficient process for recording deeds/tax records would be a better solution, rather than a fee based registration.  Seriously, the people and organizations most difficult to find are still going to be difficult to find.  They’ll just pay the fees later, if at all.

Consider a neighbor or friend who has had to move before the sale of his/her primary residence was completed.  With this new system, he or she would be required to go through the county registration process and pay the fee in addition to paying for county trash service they won’t even be using.  Isn’t that just what one needs when dealing with an already dreadful situation?

If approved, this is setting precedence for future expansion of these registrations and fees, potentially to include all rental properties.  Additionally, there is language to require owners or multi-family units to update and identify an “agent” each year. 

You may be for such a plan, and that’s your choice.  I am not.  Adding another level of red tape to property ownership will not be effective and is not what we need right now.

Click here to view the current property maintenance ordinance.
Click here to view the proposed changes.

The Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing in regard to this ordinance change on Tuesday, January 25th, at 7pm at the Gwinnett Justice & Administration Center on Langley Drive.  Maybe, I’ll see you there?

You can share your thoughts, be they pro or con to this proposal with your County Commissioner.

Shirley.Lasseter@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-7001 / Dist 1
Lynette.Howard@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-7002 / Dist 2
Mike.Beaudreau@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-9003 / Dist 3
John.Heard@gwinnettcounty.com / 770-822-9004 / Dist 4

Bank of America Foreclosure Halt Increases to All 50 States – How Will This Impact the Housing Recovery?

Bank of America announced today that it has expanded its halt of foreclosures and sale of foreclosed properties from 23 states to include all 50.  Other large institutions such as JP Morgan Chase and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) are expected to follow suit and will probably happen before I can finish this post.  One article from My Fox Atlanta titled Foreclosure Halt Creates 40K Zombie Homeowners in NY speaks of the many borrowers now in limbo somewhere in the foreclosure process.  This fiasco will pose additional challenges and heartburn for our already suffering housing economy.  Until this is resolved, many buyers with contracts on foreclosed properties of BofA, JP Morgan Chase, Ally/GMAC and probably others to come, will be unable to complete the purchase of the property.  This is no small change in events.

A few weeks ago, news began to surface of the “Robo Signer” scandal at some of the larger financial institutions, where bank officials are alleged to have signed foreclosure documents at an impossible rate.  According to one article a Bank of America official has admitted in a deposition that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents in one month.  The bank official stated, “I typically don’t read them because of the volume that we sign.”  Similar accounts have arisen with regard to Ally Financial Inc/GMAC and JP Morgan Chase.  These incidents were the primary driver of the initial halt in 23 states.

Why halt in only 23 states?  When it comes to property ownership and lending, each state falls into the category of either Lien Theory or Title Theory, some call it judicial or non-judicial.  In a Lien theory state the lender is required to get a judgment in order to foreclose.  In Title theory states, the borrower signs over the right to the lender to sell the property in the event of non-payment, without the need for a judgment (non-judicial).  What began as a moratorium in the judicial states is now reaching nationwide.

Now, let’s tackle the issue of ownership.  Clear title is vital to establishing and exercising property ownership rights in this country.  Clean and clear title is paramount in gaining title insurance.  Title insurance is established to declare that the sellers do in fact have the right to sell the property the buyer wishes to purchase.  In the event that it is determined after the sale that the seller did not have the right to sell and the buyer has to surrender ownership of the property, the title insurance is there to pay the amount of purchase and possibly any damages.  When property is purchased using financing, the policy is in place to protect the lender.  The lender would be compensated for the amount of the mortgage owed on the property.  Damages may or may not be paid.  For the buyer to have any protection, he or she would need to purchase a buyer’s title protection policy.  This would help to protect down payment and possibly other investments in the property, or in the case of a cash sale, would protect the buyer for the amount of purchase.

On September 29th, Old Republic National Title announced that it would not write any new title policies for the purchase of foreclosed JP Morgan Chase properties.  This moratorium later extended to foreclosed properties from Ally/GMAC and Bank of America.  This is a sensible move on their part, as they would be unable to defend ownership on a clouded title.  Without clear title and title insurance, lenders will not write loans, closings will fall apart.

For now, I’m very happy and fortunate that my buyers are currently under contract with a traditional resale “retail” home, or they could be wondering where they’ll call home in a couple of weeks.  I’m interested to hear your opinion.  Are you under contract or looking to purchase a foreclosed property from any of the institutions mentioned in this article?  If so, what has been communicated to you?  Are you one of the many borrowers in limbo?  Or, are you a property owner wondering what is going to happen to the foreclosed properties in your neighborhood?  Post your comments.  Let’s chat.

Executive, Four Sided Brick New Home at the Manors at Tree Lane in Snellville, GA 30078

There is still time to get the last new executive style, four sided brick home at the Manors at Tree Lane in Snellville, GA.  Something interesting has been happening in Snellville, and it’s happening largely in the Manors at Tree Lane.  The first interesting thing is that four homes have sold above $600k, in 2010.  This is good news for a price range in this area which has struggled to find buyers.  The next interesting thing is that three of the four homes sold above $600k were in the Manors at Tree Lane.  In fact, five homes sold in Snellville for greater than $600k, four of those were in the Manor at Tree Lane.  If you’re keeping count, this makes 7 of the last 9 sales in this price range from the Manor at Tree Lane. 

Now, there is only one more opportunity to get the last new home in this beautiful, 27 home, gated community.  Built mostly in 2007 & 2008, this executive style community features EarthCraft certified homes, award winning floor plans, beautifully appointed interior and exterior features on comfortably sized lots.  The final home available in this community is another fine creation from the great people at Allen G. Tetterton Homes and includes a 2-10 home warranty.  This spacious, five bedroom, 4.5 bathroom home is loaded with upgrades, has a 3 car side entry garage, master-on-main floor plan, double-sided fireplace in master, granite counters, coffered ceilings, custom cabinetry, lots of gleaming hardwood on main level and is on a full basement.

The Manors at Tree Lane is surrounded by fabulous park and recreation facilities and is in the Brookwood High School district.  A very short drive to the Snellville City Hall will get you to the Snellville Farmers market, open every Saturday from June to October, or take in one of the many community events held throughout the year. 

If you’ve had your eye on one of these beautiful homes, get moving and see it today!

New Four Sided Brick Homes Now Available at Tuscany Park, Lawrenceville, GA 30043

New, 4 sided brick homes in a gated community.

Beautiful new, four sided brick homes are underway in the gated community of Tuscany Park in Lawrenceville, GA.  Situated on Rock Springs Road between Old Peachtree Road and Highway 20, Tuscany Park is within a very short walk to see youth football or lacrosse, play a round of tennis or walk the great nature trails at the new Rock Springs Park.  A very short drive will take you to Collins Hill Park & Aquatic Center, Coolray Field, the Mall of GA, the Aurora Theatre, shops and restaurants of downtown Lawrenceville, Lake Lanier, golf, numerous youth athletic opportunities and the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center to enjoy hiking trails, exhibits, special events, youth and adult learning and much more!   

The BentleyNow that you have plenty to do, come home to relax in your spacious and open, new home built with care by the professionals at Allen G. Tetterton Homes.  These Four and Five bedroom floor plans offer elegant exterior finishes of four sided brick with shake and siding accents, energy efficient (Low-E) vinyl windows, 8’ high carriage style garage doors, and professionally landscaped yards. 

Inside you’ll find oak hardwoods in the foyer, smooth ceilings, beautiful handrails with metal balustrades, large open kitchens with granite and stainless appliances, garbage disposals, cultured marble counters in the bathrooms, master suites with vaulted and/or trey ceilings, garden tub, and separate shower.  Additional features you’ll appreciate are the weatherproofed electrical outlets, security system pre-wiring, CAT 5 and RG 6 for telephone and cable, connections in all bedrooms, office and great room, programmable thermostats, dual HVAC and great insulation in attic, walls and over vaulted ceilings.  This gated community has street lights, underground utilities and sidewalks.    

Currently, there are four move-in ready home sites; The Bentley, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, The Elmwood, 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, The Sagefield, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, The Lakewood, 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and 3 car garage.  Cul-de-sac and basement home sites are still available, claim yours while they last.   Don’t wait…See It Today!

This community is proudly served by Collins Hill High School, Creekland Middle School and Rock Springs Elementary School.