What exactly is a land bank? Glossary for The House Next Door (cleveland.com)

 Confused about how exactly foreclosure works, or what a land bank does?

No worries. Northeast Ohio Media Group assembled a glossary of vacant home terms, to help you navigate the topic with aplomb.

Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp: The quasi-governmental nonprofit debuted in 2009 to acquire foreclosed and abandoned properties to reduce blight, increase surrounding property values and improve neighbors’ quality of life. Homes and properties flow through constantly, acquired mostly through tax foreclosures, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and government-owned housing lender Fannie Mae.

The land bank, as its commonly called, has helped renovate about 1,100 homes and demolish about 3,500 crumbling properties.

Mortgage foreclosure: If you can’t pay the mortgage on your house, your mortgage company or bank can file foreclosure.

Cuyahoga County saw more than 8,000 foreclosures filings in 2014, according to the Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing, a program of Case Western Reserve University.

Mortgage companies file foreclosures in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and the court must send out a notification to the homeowner of the allegations against them. That could take months, because sometime the homeowner doesn’t live at the home, or doesn’t take mail.

After the notification is received the homeowner has 28 days to respond. If they do file a response, the case could go to mediation or be dragged through years of legal back and forth. If they don’t respond then by default, they admit that they owe the money, Cuyahoga County Chief Magistrate Stephen Bucha III said.

Without a response, a hearing is scheduled to hear the allegations, and a magistrate decides whether to recommend foreclosure. After a two-week window where the homeowner could file objections — Cuyahoga County waits three weeks, though, to allow for extra time — the case goes to a judge, who weighs the magistrate’s recommendation, and ultimately decides whether the bank can foreclose. That means the bank seizes the ownership of the home.

Tax foreclosure: The process is similar to mortgage foreclosures, but Cuyahoga County – which collects property taxes – acts as the bank. Typically, if you are at least two years delinquent on your property taxes, the county lists your name, and the amount owed against the property in the newspaper as a public notice in November. Then the county can file foreclosure proceedings in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Board of Revision foreclosures: If a property overdue on its property taxes is certified as vacant, it becomes a candidate for a Board of Revision foreclosure. This special process fast-tracks the foreclosure procedures, and can shave between four to six month off the process, said Colleen Majewski, the supervisor of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Office tax foreclosure unit.

Sheriff’s sale: A public auction where foreclosed properties are sold to the highest bidder. The money recouped from the sale goes to pay the liens against the property. If the property is in a bank foreclosure, the minimum bid must be two-thirds of the appraised value. If the property is in tax foreclosure, the minimum bid must be the amount owed in taxes plus court costs. It also wipes the property clean of most remaining liens.

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