Philly Resumes Sheriff Sales

Today, April 5, 2011, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s office resumed the business of conducting sheriff sales of properties in the City that are behind in their mortgage payments and property tax liabilities.  An estimated 600-700 properties are on the block. 

Since just before Christmas 2010, the monthly sheriff sales have been postponed by order of Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe.  This was done in order to allow homeowners enough time to apply for some of the $1 billion in federal assistance that is becoming available.  However, at the end of March 2011, Dembe ruled that the postponements must cease and the sales resume.   Even though the sheriff sales have commenced no deed will be issued to the buyer for 90 days in another effort to allow those foreclosed upon time to apply for the federal aid.

Despite protests and activists who plan to bid one penny (mainly symbolic) on the foreclosed properties in order give them back to the families who once owned them, the sales will take place. 

Keep in mind that many of these homes have sat vacant and neglected for months or years.  Many have significant repair and structural issues that must be addressed.  Others are not habitable for any number of reasons from infestation to lack of a central heating system.  Handing them over to owners who may not be in a position to maintain and repair the property is flat out irresponsible.  Doing so only perpetuates the cycle. 

While no one wants to see families displaced, this process needs to happen on order for real estate markets and economy to begin recovering.   It’s a painful but necessary step in order for neighborhoods to recuperate, as well.  Vacant and boarded up homes hurt neighborhood values.  These properties have to get back into the market and into the hands of qualified homeowners and investors who will repair them, live in them, resell them and add value to the affected areas. 

The Philadelphia Sheriff Sales are back for the foreseeable future.  This is a good thing.  It is a first step toward the path to a solid recovery for our streets, neighborhoods, communities, real estate markets and City.

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