Property Thieves

Property Thieves

Property Thieves

A game of finders-keepers in Real Estate

Among all of the things that one could steal, it's hard to believe that an actual house could make the list. Considering how immensely heavy they must be, it would certainly be a rather difficult feat to fit one in your pocket much less get away with taking off with one.

Forget all that you know about stealing for a while (not that you know any) and imagine coming home from a long vacation to changed locks and a family of strangers claiming the property no longer belongs to you. Yes, while you weren't looking, the person gained access to your property and claimed to be theirs as if they were conquerors of the new world who had just discovered land that no one has seen before.

According to the Palm beach Post, this is precisely what has been happening across Florida and other parts of the country through what authorities say is abuse of a centuries-old concept known as Adverse possession.

Adverse possession dates back to Renaissance England and was established to allow people to take over abandoned cottages and farmland, provided they were willing to live there and pay the taxes. This law has found its way to our State's constitution and is being misused by squatters, trespassers and swindlers to claim ownership of vacant or foreclosed homes.

We were prompted very recently to take a closer look into this because of how close to home it hit one of our homeowners.

For the sake of the client's protection we'll name our client Sue.

Sue is an investor who decided to invest in an additional property while the Real Estate market was beneficial. Unfortunately, due to the recent crash in the country's economy, Sue was no longer able to continue paying two mortgages. Stressed out and confused, she came to us to help her Short Sale.

When Sue came to us, the property had been in default for a number of months with several threats of foreclosure from her lender. Knowing the potential detrimental effects of a foreclosure on her credit, we vowed to help her Short Sale.

We got all the paperwork done, assisted in the preparation of her hardship package and submitted it to her lender. The next logical step was to pay the house a visit and see what we were getting ready to list. She warned us that though the property was once beautiful, it may look a bit ugly because she hadn't really been there in about eight months.

When we arrived, we were all surprised at the fact that there was no sign it had been abandoned. She knew there was an HOA (Home Owner's Association) but maybe she didn't know they'd keep up with the property regardless of whether or not the owner is able to pay.

The first red flag came when she tried to open the door and her key wasn't working. We thought this was odd because the house was not foreclosed on yet. So she went to the window to see if anything inside the house had been changed.

To our surprise, a family had decided to make this house their home, and boy did they look comfortable. She decided to knock on the door. A woman opened the door and we greeted her as the Real Estate company preparing to list this property for our client. Confused, Sue asked the woman what she was doing in her house. The woman responded that her and her family moved in months go and even had a lease.

A lease?

Needless to say, this was the beginning of a very stressful, long and drawn out experience involving numerous changes in stories, evictions and difficult HOA practices; All of which will be discussed in our next entry on this topic.

As always, Thanks for reading!


Vinod Kulhari Headshot
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Phone: 954-658-6690
Dated: June 27th 2017
Views: 129
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