County sheriff's deed count is lowest since '06


Ingham county officials say sheriff's deed filings have dropped to their lowest levels in five years. They call it a sign of an improving economy and evidence that government efforts to limit foreclosures are working.

County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel junior says around 1,400 such documents were filed last year. That's a drop of 18% from 2010 and the lowest number since 2006.

In the mortgage foreclosure process, a sheriff's deed is issued to the buyer of property that is sold to pay off a court-ordered debt.

Hertel also attributes the drop to a drawn-out court battle.

"A lot of the houses that could have been foreclosed got more time because of court rulings that were made," he says.

For much of last year, a court ruling halted thousands of foreclosures involving Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems or 'MERS.' The decision gave many cash-strapped homeowners time to work out new terms with lenders. In November, the state Supreme Court overturned the ruling.

Hertel says he expects the downward trend to continue slowly.