Tuesday, July 19, 2011

File under, ‘I’ll be Damned, who’d of Guessed?’ Man pays $16 to take over $330,000 House

Waterford Drive, Flower Mound, Texas (© 2011 Microsoft Corporation/Pictometry Bird's Eye)

The neighbors are outraged, but the Texas resident says his takeover is legal and will eventually give him title to the suburban Dallas home.

We all dream of scoring a great deal on a house.

But a $330,000 house for $16? (address: Waterford Drive, Flower Mound, TX - photo on right)

Kenneth Robinson of the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, Texas, says he sealed just such a deal, taking over a vacant house by simply moving in and paying $16 to file documents with the court claiming ownership.

"This is not a normal process, but it is not a process that is not known," he told WFAA-TV in Dallas. "It's just not known to everybody."

Robinson said he invested months in research to find the house. The property had been in foreclosure for more than a year, and the owner walked away. In the meantime, the lender that held the mortgage went out of business.

Robinson says he can take legal title to the house after he lives there for three years through a provision in the law called "adverse possession." Exactly how that works varies state to state.

This is how WFAA explains the situation:

… Robinson said just by setting up camp in the living room, Texas law gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner. If the owner wants him out, he would have to pay off his massive mortgage debt and the bank would have to file a complicated lawsuit.
Robinson believes because of the cost, neither is likely. The law says if he stays in the house, after three years he can ask the court for the title.

The neighbors are outraged that Robinson got a house on their suburban street for $16 and have tried to get the police to arrest him for trespassing or breaking and entering. But Robinson says he had a key to the house, and the police say it's a civil matter, not a criminal case

Candy Evans of the Dallas real-estate blog Candy's Dirt called a title attorney to ask if Robinson had a chance of holding on to the house. She wrote:

… he told me he seriously doubted that Robinson will get ownership of this home, but he may get a free place to live for several months. The owner of the home will be whoever acquires the assets of the defunct mortgage company, but that company will have to regroup and take legal action against Robinson. And that could take months.

Robinson isn't the first person who has tried to take over an abandoned home by just moving in and claiming adverse possession.

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