I have revised this post effective 3-23-09: see the bold text below.
The successful bidder at an Indiana sheriff's sale, following the foreclosure of a mortgage, will obtain a sheriff's deed to the real estate. Or, mortgagees may obtain a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. As the new owner of the property, you, your counsel or your title insurance company must ensure that the deed is recorded in the county recorder's office to perfect title to the real estate.
Disclosure Form. Many parties either do not know or sometimes forget that, as a part of the recording process, Indiana law requires a sales disclosure form to be tendered with the deed. The form can be accessed by clicking on this state website: http://www.stats.indiana.edu/SDF/.
On-line process. In Marion County (Indianapolis), as noted by this press release, as of 11-1-08 all sales disclosure forms must be submitted on-line through the Indiana Department of Finance via the link above. After submitting the form on-line, it must be printed, signed by the buyer and seller, and presented to the auditor as noted below. It's my understanding that, over time, other counties will be utilizing this on-line procedure.
Signatures. Based upon our experience, in the event of a sheriff's sale, the attorney for the "buyer" - usually the lender/mortgagee's attorney - has been able to execute the form for both the both buyer and seller (the sheriff). This has avoided involving the sheriff's office in the past. The better practice, however, is to submit the form for the sheriff's signature at the same time the sheriff's deed is tendered for execution. That way, the sheriff's office can sign both documents at once. We recently discovered that the Marion County Sheriff's Office provided this form signature page to the assessor's office for purposes of completing sales disclosure forms after sheriff's sales. The assessor's office has instructed our office to attach this signature to future SDF's filed in Marion County.
In cases of agreements for deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, lenders and their counsel should have the mortgagor sign the sales disclosure form at the time the deed and related settlement documents are signed.
Other steps. Although the process can vary from county to county, generally a deed and a sales disclosure form make their way through three county offices: first the assessor, second the auditor and third the recorder. If the documents are hand delivered, one can go to each office in succession to complete the transaction. The process can, however, be accomplished through the mail, and it's our experience that the package should be mailed directly to the recorder's office for handling. A fee will need to be paid to the county recorder to record the deed. We recommend that you contact the auditor in advance to determine whether there will be a fee for the filing of the sales disclosure form and, if so, a separate check, payable to the auditor, must be submitted. Fees for sales disclosures vary depending upon the transaction and by county.
As always, please call or email me with any questions or comments.