A tentative timeline for a new foreclosure cycle was outlined by Controller Matt Agresta at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. Agresta said he hopes to file the necessary paper work to begin the process with Montgomery County either today or Monday. There are approximately 350 properties being considered for foreclosure, and the entire process may take as long as nine months before the city can sell those properties at a public auction.
Agresta said the first step is to complete title searches on all the foreclosures, a process that may take as long as 2 to 3 months. The council passed a resolution at the meeting authorizing Mayor Michael Villa to enter into a contract with Kelfor Title Inc. to complete the process at a rate of $80 per title within 3 months.
After the title searches, the property owners will be sent notifications by first class and certified mail. Agresta said that the notifications must specify a date of foreclosure no less than 3 months out. For any notifications that are returned, additional research must be done, and a notice must be posted on the property. Additionally the city must advertise the list of properties to be foreclosed on in two newspapers, multiple times over a minimum of two months.
Agresta said the city will also need to make arrangements with an auction company and if everything goes right, a July 2018 auction could be possible.
In October 2016, the city brought in approximately $1 million in revenue selling approximately 220 properties in an auction run by NYSAuctions.com.
Alderman Chad Majewski said he was agreeable to the timeline, but suggested that the city send out an additional, earlier round of letters, notifying property owners that their properties are in danger of being foreclosed on. Majewski said that the letters may spur owners to pay their back taxes or enter into a payment agreement with the city.
“I think we would get in more money now, rather than later,” said Majewski.
Majewski also said he wants to make sure any abandoned properties are properly winterized, to avoid pipes freezing and bursting, potentially causing damage that would decrease the value of the property. Other council members expressed agreement with his concerns.
“The water department usually goes in. If it’s vacant, they’ll shut the water off,” said Villa.
“Codes [department] has done it before too,” said Agresta.
Agresta said that owners who are delinquent on payment agreements for back taxes that they entered into in order to avoid foreclosure in 2016, have been added to the current foreclosure list.
“You’ve got to give every homeowner, I think, that option at least once,” said Agresta in regards to the payment agreements. But he added, “I could probably list twenty properties by three different corporations that are all owned by one person, that made a down payment and then never made another payment.”
“Legally, we don’t have to offer them a new agreement for three years. But if they’ve just defaulted on one, I think we’d be foolish to offer them another,” said Agresta.