|By Jennifer Sorentrue, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Three local title companies have accused Gannon's office of giving them the wrong payoff amounts for delinquent taxes owed on properties set to be sold. After the closing, the agents say they were told the sellers actually owed thousands more in unpaid taxes. The mistakes, they say, have cost their companies or their underwriters more than
Real estate professionals warn that the alleged errors could lead to even more turmoil in the county's already strained real estate market -- and could cause property title insurers not to issue policies here until it is corrected.
Gannon, who is facing re-election this year, said her office is aware of the complaints and is investigating. She attributes one of the cases to a "clerical error" in her office.
Gannon said that her office changed the way it releases information to title companies after learning of the complaints. "It really, I think, tells us that we did not have the right kind of controls in place," Gannon said. "We are going to go back and review that."
Gannon's office had sold tax certificates on all of the properties involved in the cases and the investors holding those certificates had recently applied for a tax deed.
Under the new procedures, at least two employees and a supervisor in Gannon's office will have to review delinquent tax payoff amounts on any properties involving a tax deed before the information is released.
"There is always the human error factor," Fields said. "This doesn't appear to be human error. It appears to be systemic error. That is what is so concerning. I have never heard of this kind of system error anywhere in the state."
"Guess who has to pay those?" Searson said. "Me."
Local title agents can't rely on information from Gannon's website and are often forced to call and confirm tax information before the sale of a property is finalized, Searson said.
Gannon said late Wednesday that Searson was "clearly told there were taxes due."
Former Tax Collector Pete Carney, Gannon's opponent in the
Gannon on Wednesday said the complaints were politically motivated. "I clearly think that my opponent has worked with these people," Gannon said.
"I don't have any dealings with any of these people," he said. "This is not a political issue. This is costing people real money. Basically what it comes down to is, (Gannon) wants real estate professionals to be liable for bad information that is provided."
"I have no political ax to grind," Terkel said. "I do now."
Terkel said his office was told by one of Gannon's employees that there were no delinquent property taxes on a parcel, but discovered after the closing that
"I am not a political guy," Krasker said. "I have never been involved in political races. But every real estate attorney that deals with
Gannon said that her office spent 3 ½ days investigating Krasker's case and found that the mistake was the result of a "clerical error."
"We have investigated it," she said. "The appropriate disciplinary procedures are being pursued."
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