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Ex-banking executives could run St. Petersburg's foreclosure registry

ST. PETERSBURG — A firm headed by executives with 100 years of banking and mortgage experience could be hired to run the city's foreclosure registry.

The City Council will vote today on whether to award a contract to Melbourne-based VacantRegistry.com. No other firm responded to the city's request for a vendor to administer the registry.

The firm, a subsidiary of Federal Property Registration Corp., is headed by Rodney Brace, a former executive at JP Morgan Chase. Formed in 2009, the company touts that its managers have worked at some of the nation's biggest lenders.

Managing director Tom Darnell said the firm's connections with lenders and loan servicers make it easier for cities to enforce code cases when homes fall into disrepair and affect property values.

Once the registry starts, banks will pay $125 for every house in foreclosure. Of that $125, VacantRegistry.com will keep $75.

With 5,000 homes in foreclosure, St. Petersburg expects the filing fees to reach $625,000 in the first year. The firm would keep $375,000, records show.

After lenders pay the filing fee, Darnell said, some cities simply file the paperwork in a drawer and don't use the information. But not all, he said.

Cities can hold lenders and loan servicers more accountable, since the banks supply contact information for each property, Darnell said, adding: "It's all about what you do with the registry."

The company administers 34 registries in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada.

The contract calls for two one-year renewal options.

After more than a year of debates and several votes, the council voted 6-2 in November to create the registry.

The new rules will require lenders to pay $125 to register a property within 10 days of filing a foreclosure notice.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Ex-banking executives could run St. Petersburg's foreclosure registry 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 11:19pm]
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