No, you read the title correctly; it actually says: “Can You Really Buy A $300,000 house for $16?”
A Texas man thinks he can and has already begun the process.
Under a little known legal maneuver known as “Adverse Possession”, it is legally possible to acquire a piece of real estate, including whatever may be build on that real estate for next to nothing.
Kenneth Robinson, now of Flower Mound, Texas found a vacant house and after doing some research in the local register of deeds office he learned that the former owners had abandoned the house and walked away from their mortgage. That’s a not uncommon occurrence in lots of the country today. To further this ‘perfect storm’, the mortgage company had also gone bankrupt and shut their doors.
Under the doctrine of adverse possession, if a person occupies a piece of property in a “Notorious, open, and hostile” manner for a prescribed period of time, they can then petition the court to make that property legally theirs. Mr.. Robinson paid $16.00 to file a notice of adverse possession at the local register of deeds signaling his intent to claim that property.
Here’s how a Nashua law firm defines adverse possession on their blog: “To make a claim for adverse possession, the claimant must have acted as if he is the true owner of the property. The claimant must possess the land to the exclusion of all other uses and he must possess the land conspicuously, that is doing things on the property that would show the world that he owns the property. Among those things might be building a house, logging, farming, planting a hedge or building a fence. Further, the claimant must possess the land adversely to the actual owner. This means that the adverse possessor cannot be occupying the land with the permission of the owner. The adverse possessor and the actual title owner are often both under the mistaken belief that the adverse possessor owns the land and the title owner is not giving permission to use land he does not believes he owns. Furthermore, the adverse possessor as acting as the title owner because he believes he is the title owner.”
Please read on a little further before you go running out the door looking for vacant houses. In Texas the minimum period an adverse possessor must occupy the property he intends to claim is as little as 3 years. In New Hampshire it’s 20 years! That’s a long time to squat on a piece of real estate with a cloudy title. What if the original owner shows up in year 19 and says; “Thanks for looking after the place for me, see ya.” You’re probably out.
So what’s going to happen in Texas? Check back with me in three years and we’ll see if Mr.. Robinson truly ends up owning a $300,000 house for $16.00.
In the mean time we have some wonderful houses, condos, and land in the Portsmouth and Seacoast area you can own a lot sooner than 20 years; likely about 30-45 days is more realistic, and no one will be able to take it away from you. Give Ann Cummings and Jim Lee a call today and let’s get started.
Visit New Hampshire Maine Real Estate dot com to see all the Seacoast New Hampshire and southern Maine listings for sale and pick your favorites out.
Also, if you have any real estate questions we’re always happy to answer them for you. Our combined 60+ years of experience has been a PhD in real estate.