Local Legislative Update – March 2014

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ACAR’s Legislative Committee has been hard at work since the beginning of the year on a variety of issues in both Cuyahoga and Summit County.

First, in Summit County, members reported ongoing delays with Sheriff Sale properties, despite previous efforts by the board of REALTORS®. Lt. Kandy Fatheree (Summit Co. Sheriff’s Office, Civil Division) sat down with members of the Summit County Legislative Subcommittee and shared concerns about these delays. Lt. Fatheree assessed the current situation of sheriff sales in February and found that 260 properties needed to be processed by the Sheriff’s Office. Fatheree reported that, thanks to extra staff hours, they are current on all deeds and are working to get the turnaround on Sheriff’s Sale properties down from an average of five months to three months. The process was previously averaging nine months.

To check the status of a property, follow these simple steps:

  • Go to https://sheriff.summitoh.net/
  • Click on information – sheriff sales
  • Click on Search Sheriff Sales & Results
  • Enter case number or property address

However, Fatheree noted there are outstanding issues with more than 700 properties. In those cases, it could be a variety of issues holding up the process. According to Fatheree, in most, the Sheriff’s Office has not received the deed packet from the attorney. After a healthy discussion and in the days following this meeting, ACAR’s Legislative Committee Leadership was able to organize a near future meeting between the Civil Division of the Sheriff’s Office and some of the largest law firms involved. We are hopeful that this meeting will help resolve any confusion between the two parties.

In Cuyahoga County, talks continued between REALTORS® and the Cleveland Water Department. CWD representatives Debra Mitchell and Karen Robinson met with the Cuyahoga County Legislative Subcommittee to review progress and ongoing issues agents see home buyers and sellers experiencing when making requests of the water department. Mitchell advised that Status Requests are now faxed or emailed within five business days of the receiving the request.

One of the biggest areas of concern was regarding the placement of liens on the property. The Water Department representatives clarified that when a property has an outstanding water bill, a lien will not be placed on the property as long as the balance is essentially marked for collections before the property title transfers. Additionally, they cannot put a previous owner’s debt on the new owner’s account. If there is an instance where this has happened, the water department should be notified.

When we last met with the Mitchell and Robinson, several helpful tips were shared for agents to keep in mind. In case you missed it, they included:

  • Check out www.clevelandwater.com – updated website
  • If you experience a problem, call (216) 644-3130.
  • Before calling the water department, double check interior water valves to determine if the property’s water is indeed off.
  • Including the name of the property owner with the property address when requesting a status update may help expedite the process, especially if said property has had numerous owners.
  • Submit a request to turn water on 2 -3 days prior to the day of the scheduled home inspection.
  • The buyer(s) should not call the water department to open a new account until the title has transferred and is showing on the County Auditor’s website.
  • If you take photos of the water meter for proof on a final read, be sure the photo includes the meter’s serial number.

If you have specific questions for the Cleveland Water Department, please email Government Affairs Director Jamie McMillen.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Sale delays and water department issues, the Government Affairs Department has met with officials in Middleburg Heights and Akron, as well as conducted outreach to our many Mayors, County Councils, and state legislators. Watch for more updates next month.

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