Banks shouldn't fret Miami-Dade code rule proposal, bankers association chief says
By Risa Polansky
Banks shouldn't fear a Miami-Dade proposal that would force them to ensure foreclosed houses they sell meet county codes, the head of the Florida Bankers Association says.
Alex Sanchez, the association's president and chief executive officer, said banks already make a point of maintaining foreclosed properties.
"We're doing that and we will continue doing that," he said. "In the case where we had to foreclose, the banks are maintaining the property because we want to resell that property. If we don't maintain it, there's no way we're going to be able to resell."
Proper maintenance includes securing the property, cutting the grass and other safety and aesthetics measures.
Mr. Sanchez added also that banks are making every effort to avoid foreclosure when possible.
But should foreclosures continue to grow — and many predict they will — Miami-Dade's proposed law would help keep track of foreclosed properties.
The proposal is one of two measures drafted by Commissioner Natacha Seijas. One would make code compliance up to homeowners before a sale. The other would
make anyone who filed to foreclose on a mortgaged home be responsible for maintaining the property.
In either instance, without code compliance there could be no sale.
The proposals won approval this month from the county's Governmental Operations and Environment Committee.
The foreclosure rule would mean more work for lenders, but a bank "has to know that part of the expense of that foreclosure will be the maintenance of that property," said Carlos Gimenez, co-sponsor of the foreclosure legislation. "This just says the banks must keep the property up to the same standards as any owner."
Maintenance of vacant property has long been a minor problem in the county, he said, but officials expect it to grow along with the number of foreclosures.
Foreclosed properties are "vacant, they become a nuisance, they're used for other purposes — we just don't want that," Mr. Gimenez said. "We fear that it would become a major problem because of the number of foreclosures."
Should foreclosures continue to grow — and many predict they will — Miami-Dade's proposed law would help keep track of foreclosed properties.
A one-time, $125 registry fee would cover for about two years the cost of data entry and monitoring the condition of abandoned properties, county documents say.
Mr. Gimenez agreed that the maintenance measure may help banks sell foreclosed houses because cleaner, more attractive properties are more likely to attract buyers.
"It's good business, actually," he said. "This will actually help the note holder to sell the house, and it also helps the folks that actually live there to maintain their property values."
He did not co-sponsor Ms. Seijas' other piece of legislation that would require homeowners to be certified in code compliance before selling, but he voted in favor of it.
He acknowledged that the measure would put "a burden on the seller," but said a buyer should know they're not going to be liable for issues for which they weren't responsible.
Both measures are set for full commission votes Dec. 2.