Foreclosure proceedings can be complicated, with numerous steps, details and due diligences that can’t be overlooked. Whether you’re a firm entrusted with finding all the relevant property records before proceedings begin, an attorney assisting a client in foreclosing on a Tax Sale Certificate, or a title company trying to secure underwriting on a property, it’s important to find and use the resources that ensure your foreclosure proceedings are conducted in compliance with the law—so, what are those resources? Read on to find out the right searches, certificates, status reports and abstracts to safeguard every party’s investment in a tax sale foreclosure.
- A New Jersey Tax Records Search
A Tax Records Search needs to be conducted for all real estate transfers and refinances of properties in the state. Your title or legal firm may have already conducted searches to determine if there are unpaid municipal taxes, but may still need results on a judgment search. This type of search will help you identify any liens that have been placed against the property and the results of any judgments regarding the property.
To carry out an all-inclusive judgment search on a property, an independent service company can help you. You’ll want to look for a firm that provides public records search information, plus:
- Quick turnarounds on delivering results
- Field representatives who conduct on-site searches to mitigate the risk of finding problems that a traditional document or judgment search may not reveal
- Insurance; records search databases use different algorithms that can produce varying results, so by choosing an insured provider, you can limit exposure to liability
One significant reason to conduct a tax records search is to learn about the possibility of purchasing a Tax Sale Certificate from the municipality in which the property is located. A Tax Sale Certificate is document issued by the taxation authorities that serves to document a “tax sale,” which is a conditional transfer of ownership of a property for unpaid taxes. If the property owner fails to pay the taxes and charges within the specified amount of time, or statutory redemption period, the certificate’s holder can foreclose on the property, obtaining the tax deed and transferring absolute title to him or herself.
In order to foreclose on a Tax Sale Certificate, one must know the details and circumstances in which the certificate came to be available and if all the proper procedures were followed in creating it. This search is the first step in being able to file a complaint for foreclosure on one’s Tax Sale Certificate. Once the tax records search is complete, you can proceed with your foreclosure process or review.
- A Case Status Report
A Case Status Report is the only way to know the status of foreclosure proceedings that don’t have a final judgment. Independent service companies can provide you with a case status report so that you can know what could be problematic before the judgment is entered. This is important for legal professionals so that they can prepare to enter supporting documents or respond to issues within the foreclosure proceedings that could negatively impact the judgment.
- A Certificate of Regularity
If you’re an attorney, you need to be certain that your clients’ foreclosure proceedings are carried out in 100% compliance with the law. A good idea is to find a service company that supports law firms like yours with filing foreclosure documents—particularly one that specializes in tax foreclosures. When you find that firm, ensure they provide a foreclosure review and issue Certificates of Regularity.
A Certificate of Regularity is granted to attorneys by the independent service company and serves as an opinion that the foreclosure was conducted in absolute compliance with the law. It also confirms that there are no exceptions within the foreclosure that could prompt a title company to think twice before issuing title on that property.
As an attorney, you’ll want a Certificate of Regularity to assure your client that their foreclosure proceedings were conducted correctly, and to make the legal proceedings easier. For instance, the title company that your client chooses to issue a title policy on the property will likely want to see a Certificate of Regularity. Without it, the title company may choose to conduct their own investigation, which would only slow the process down.
- A Chancery Abstract
A Chancery Abstract is a prepared review of the complete foreclosure file. It identifies the defendant and creditors and includes notes on any irregularities in the foreclosure proceedings and photocopies of relevant documents. A Chancery Abstract is the only way to really get an in-depth look at any challenges that might arise from moving forward with a real estate transfer on a foreclosed property after the judgment in the foreclosure proceedings has been entered.
There are different forms of Chancery Abstracts that one can request: Full and Short Form. A Short Form Chancery Abstract is basically a summary of a Full Chancery Abstract, and includes:
- All the defendants joined in the complaint to foreclose
- Any amendments to the complaint
- The status of those defendants
- All appropriate notes on irregularities found
The Short Form Chancery Abstract includes all items, yet omits the pleadings that make a Full Chancery Abstract so dense. The independent service company that provides your Short Form Chancery Abstract should do so only after preparing the Full Form version so that you and your clients be assured that a full foreclosure review was conducted.
Some services offer the option to request a Chancery Abstract digitally, making it easier to obtain the information. Make sure the service provider you choose to generate the Chancery Abstract will review any abnormalities in the foreclosure file with you, so that you know if it’s necessary to act in order to bring the file into compliance.
A Chancery Abstract is the right product for you to request if:
- You’re a non-attorney party involved in a tax foreclosure sale
- You need foreclosure review services after a foreclosure judgment
- You’re a title professional who needs to insure a foreclosed property
Using These Safeguards Effectively
Conducting a tax sale foreclosure in New Jersey is a detailed process that offers many opportunities for error that can delay or even halt the case. Attorneys and title professionals need to use every resource available to ensure the foreclosure process is conducted in complete compliance. Law firms and title professionals should look to independent service companies for tools like NJ records searches, Certificates of Regularity and Chancery Abstracts, to help their clients secure deeds and title insurance on the properties they obtain in tax sale foreclosures. As you move forward with tax sale foreclosures, be sure to look to credible services with extensive expertise in tax sale foreclosures.
To get started with NJ Tax Records Searches, contact a qualified and independent service provider now.