Since the development and adoption of thousands of Vacant Property Registration Ordinances (VPROs) came into play, those charged with the legal responsibility to register properties are sometimes left scratching their heads. On the surface, understanding, dealing with and navigating the complexity of various ordinance requirements can seem daunting—especially when you add in the element of accomplishing the task using the Internet. PRS helps dispel eight misconceptions about online property registration.
A Brief Historical Perspective
Those in the housing, mortgage lending, and mortgage servicing industries became very aware of VPROs following the housing market crash of 2007/2008. Municipalities, counties, and empowered governments developed these ordinances as a tool to fight neighborhood blight, eroding tax bases and increased crime problems associated with the rash of housing foreclosures, abandoned and vacated homes. A good perspective on the number of before VPROs and the number of after crash VPROs makes for interesting reading at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website (type in Vacant Property Registration in the HUD Search Bar box). Ordinances prior to the crash once numbered just a few dozen. In the past decade, that number has mushroomed to more than 2,000. And because many of these ordinances deal with a considerable number of properties that may not necessarily be vacant, the industry classification of VPROs has morphed into a more accurate acronym of PROs (Property Registration Ordinances). The rationale behind the change is that properties in foreclosure may be fluid at various stages of the process where they may or may not require registration; some ordinances deal with rental properties that may be partially occupied or partially unoccupied; and some ordinances deal with business and industrial properties that likewise may or may not be productive or occupied. With that in mind, and from a wealth of experience, PRS provides this synopsis of eight common misconceptions about online property registration and concludes with two powerful tools that remove any ambiguity.
The Misconception Laundry List
- Misconception #1: That the process is difficult and complex. It can be if you are a responsible party and don’t know where to go or how to acheive registration compliance.
- Misconception #2: That registering online is time-consuming. Not if you can quickly and easily determine the most essential step—do I have an obligation to register? Hold that thought.
- Misconception #3: That all properties MUST be registered. Depends on the type of property, what stage of the foreclosure process it might be in if the property is vacant or occupied. Hold that thought.
- Misconception #4: That all Property Registration Ordinances (PROs) are the same. While most have the same goal in mind, registration dates, deadlines, renewals, exemptions and other factors can vary greatly. Hold that thought.
- Misconception #5: That you need to be a computer expert or technological whiz to complete online property registration. Not if you are using the right tools. Hold that thought.
- Misconception #6: That for banks, mortgage companies and mortgage servicers, registering large numbers of properties in different geographical locations is a quagmire. Not necessarily. Hold that thought.
- Misconception #7: That it’s costly trying to determine if there is an obligation to register specific properties. On the surface, that’s a legitimate concern. Hold that thought.
- Misconception #8: That keeping up with the considerable number of PROs in existence, changes or modifications to them, and new ones coming into play is virtually impossible. At first glance, a customary reaction. But one more time—hold that thought.
The Myth of Misconceptions
Every one of the misconceptions noted above is legitimate. Especially for legally identified property owners who are likely unfamiliar with the ins and outs of achieving registration compliance. We asked you to hold those thoughts, now it’s time to share ours with you. PRS has two invaluable tools that take the mysteries and complexities of online property registration and puts them to rest. The first tool is our OTR Tool Kit (Obligation to Register). By logging on to the PRS webpage and entering basic property location information, you can quickly determine if there is indeed an ordinance where the property is located that requires registration or for some reason is exempt. This step is free for a limited number of properties. If you are a bank, mortgage servicer, property preservation company or property manager with a large property portfolio to deal with, you can contract with PRS to do the homework for you. Likewise, you may choose to contract with PRS to complete the online registration process for you. No muss, no fuss, plenty of time, money, and staff resources on your part saved. The second PRS tool is of equal importance—C.O.R.E. (Community Ordinances & Registration Engine)
C.O.R.E is our cloud-based property ordinance database that contains and tracks every single PRO currently on the books in every city, county or state in the U.S. This technology tool also monitors for changes or modifications to any currently existing ordinance and keeps a watchful eye out for new ordinances being proposed for possible adoption and implementation. For legally identified property owners with large portfolios spread north, south, east, and west, it’s a contracted service available from PRS that can potentially save massive amounts of time, money and resources necessary to meet registration compliance. And it is especially helpful in keeping property registration clients up to date on registration deadlines, fees and renewals—all designed to avoid costly fines, penalties and possible citations for failing to accurately keep up with registration obligations and time sensitive dates.
You don’t necessarily need to buy a huge bottle of aspirin to cure the online property registration misconceptions. A visit to the PRS webpage may be just what the doctor ordered.