Brick Keeping Track Of Abandoned Homes

The council has sought a number of demolitions of abandoned homes, such as this property. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The township would be utilizing a property registration company as part of their toolkit in managing the high number of abandoned properties here.

Chief Operating Officer Ted Mucellin of ProChamps made a pitch at a recent council meeting for his company, which requires responsible parties (usually banks) to register a foreclosed property with no cost to the community.

Mucellin said increased foreclosures and abandoned properties are a problem everywhere because it’s difficult for townships to track down who has the information on mortgages and deeds.

“It’s tough getting a hold of someone,” he said.

ProChamps was co-founded in 2008 by two army veterans, he said. They provide an interactive website to facilitate direct communication with property managers who are assigned to the community.

They are a for-profit company who have been hired by 300 communities nationwide, 70 of which are in New Jersey, Mucellin said.

In May the governing body passed an ordinance that would put the burden on banks to ensure that the abandoned structures do not become a blight or affect surrounding property values.

Banks would be responsible for registering the property with the township and would indicate whether the property is vacant.

The registry would be for properties that have been vacant for more than 30 days, or have had a cancellation of utility or service, whichever occurs first.

If the house is vacant, the bank would be responsible for designating a property manager to inspect, maintain and secure the property every 30 days.

The registry would include the name and contact information for the mortgagee and the for the property manager, and the physical location of the property manager during business hours.

As part of the contract, ProChamps would handle the record-keeping for all of the above, Mucellin said.

(Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

After a property is added to the township registry, the bank would pay a non-refundable semi-annual registration fee of $500 to offset the cost of registration enforcement, code enforcement, and other related purposes.

ProChamps would take $100 of every $500 registration fee for their services, Mucellin said, and the township keeps the remainder.

“We would collect the funds and our fee is no out-of-pocket cost to the township,” he said. “We free up code enforcement officers so they can do their jobs instead of tracking down [mortgagees].”

In Brick there are 1,300 to 1,500 active foreclosures, Mucellin said, meaning “something’s been filed in the last year or two.”

In addition, there are 400 to 500 “possible foreclosures” in the past five or six years where nothing has been finalized or filed, he said.

“Foreclosures comes in waves,” he added.

New Jersey and Florida are the two states with the most foreclosures, Mucellin said. “We operate there the heaviest due to aggressive mortgage lending and economic disasters,” he said.

Brick is one of the top ten towns in the state for foreclosures, with Jersey City, Camden and Atlantic City being the top three.

The next council meeting will be on Tuesday July 10 at 7 p.m.