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Cleanup bills for Register of Deeds are signed

Beth Pabst of St. Croix County Register of Deeds (back row, third from left) was at the state Capitol to witness the signing of two bill by Gov. Scott Walker. Photo by Joe Koshollek

Beth Pabst, St. Croix County Register of Deeds was recently in the Wisconsin Capitol witnessing the signing of two bills by Gov. Scott Walker. Pabst was part of a legislative committee that had reached out to Rep. Joan Ballweg and Sen. Luther Olsen to help with two cleanup bills for the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association.

The first bill, 2017 Wisconsin Act 102, was to give the local register the option to use volume and page on recorded documents. With the changes in current technology utilizing electronic recording, this process needed to be modernized to reflect the rapid changes in the Register of Deeds office. The second bill was 2017 Wisconsin ACT 104, relating to foreclosed properties. This bill will curb fraud and errors regarding sheriff's sales. Previously when a property was foreclosed, either the bank or third party would put a down payment on the property, and it would be up to the new owner to file the paperwork with the Register of Deeds. Now the deed will go directly from the sheriff to the Clerk of Courts to the Register of Deeds. This will be a seamless process and will ensure the deed is recorded. This will also be reflected in the county tax rolls to have the most accurate and up-to-date information for the public.

This legislation addresses "loopholes" that a buyer could take advantage of by not recording the deed. This addresses the fraud and accidents that have occurred around the state.

There were several foreclosure issues, particularly in Milwaukee, where the loophole caused issues.

"What was happening in Milwaukee County was that a third-party buyer would buy the house at a sheriff's sale, not record the deed, not pay the taxes and then rent the house," Pabst said. "They would never pay the taxes on the property because the taxes were in the (previous owner's) name."

Pabst said there were cases of fraud found "all around the state," but the new law should also cut down the number of deeds not being recorded by new property buyers.

Often times the buyer assumes after the confirmation of sale that the court records automatically update the land records; this does not occur unless the document is recorded in the Register of Deeds office.

Pabst has been instrumental in the creation of these two bills, which represent good government and common sense to better serve the citizens in her county and throughout the state of Wisconsin.