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Woman 'buys,' renovates wrong home

In a colossal mix-up, an agent lists, shows and sells a foreclosure property. The new owner upgrades it before learning she really bought the place next door.

By MSN Money Partner May 14, 2012 7:10PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.

 

Image: Home for sale (© Digital Vision Ltd.)A Memphis TV station is telling the story of a hideous real-estate mix-up. Terry Jordan of Tate County, Miss., thought she was doing everything right to help her family out of a financial pinch when she bought a foreclosure property and poured money into it. She and her unemployed husband planned to sell it for a profit.

 

She has since learned, however, that the home she bought -- or thought she'd bought -- and renovated doesn't really belong to her. The real-estate agent actually sold her a different home, one on the lot next door, which Jordan had not visited.  

 

WREG 3 TV in Memphis reports that the realty company says it got bad information about the home from the mortgage company. But no one appears willing to help Jordan.


Post continues below.

Jordan told the TV station that a real-estate agent escorted her through a small home in Senatovia, Miss., with a for-sale sign. The agent opened the home's door with keys retrieved from a lock box on the property. The house appears to have two bedrooms and a bonus room, a good-sized lot and a barn. Jordan returned to view it twice more and then purchased it, the station says.

 

ABC News says the home was listed for $11,500 and that Jordan bought it for $10,500.

 

WREG TV reporter Wayne Carter describes the sale property's listing sheet:

It shows a picture of the house. Describes it accurately. You go there, you go inside. You wind up buying it just as it's listed here, but all the details, even the address, were wrong. Turns out you own a house you've never seen.

I said, 'What?'

The ownership problem surfaced only after Jordan spent "thousands of dollars," adding a new roof, rewiring the home and fixing the plumbing, the station says. She'd ordered a survey after noticing that the home's paperwork at city hall didn't "look right." The home, it turns out, was never for sale. It just happened to be empty and was next door to the property that should have been listed.

 

Jordan spoke with the agent who sold her the home. "She's like, 'I don't know how to tell you this but we might have sold you the wrong house,'" Jordan told the station. "I said, 'What?'"

 

There are a lot of unanswered questions here. Meanwhile, Jordan appears to have kept her sense of humor remarkably well. She laughs incredulously as she tells the station that "the whole purpose of us doing this was to have another income."

 

What about the house she actually bought? She told Carter:

It's half this size. It's pitiful the lot that it sits on. The house is full of mold.

She only wants to get back the money she spent on the house, Jordan told ABC News.

 

But "no lawyer has been willing to deal with all the red tape for such a small payoff," WREG says.

 

Still a mess

The Huffington Post, commenting on the story, points out that after years of mortgage crisis, "banks are still showing signs of disorganization on all things foreclosure."

HuffPo tells of other mortgage fiascos. Some took place before state attorneys general settled  with five big banks (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial, the company formerly called GMAC) this spring to stop improprieties in mortgage servicing. Some took place after. Among the stories:

  • A Houston couple were threatened with foreclosure last fall even though they're current on their payments. The problem: The title to the property was never transferred into their name when they bought it in 2008.
  • A Pasco County, Fla., couple faced foreclosure "not for missing a payment but for sending one in too early" one month and using the wrong routing number the next month.
  • In Northampton, Mass., last June a man "got a letter stating his home would be seized if he didn't pay up zero dollars and zero cents!" reported News 22 WWLP.

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62Comments
May 15, 2012 9:08AM
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Number 1, file a claim with the title insurance company.

Number 2, You can file in court yourself without a lawyer and sue the real estate agent.

Number 3, file in court yourself and sue the broker in charge at the office.

Number 4 file in court yourself and sue Remax corporate.

All brokers, offices and agents carry errors and omissions insurance. The minute you sue their insurance companies step in and I guarantee you it will cost them more to defend than just paying you to go away. Also be sure and sue for fraud as it carries treble damages. 

 

The judges are not suppossed to help you in the courtroom but I have rarely seen a judge who won't help a pro se claimant. But, my guess is you will never even get to the first hearing. They will settle.  

May 14, 2012 11:41PM
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I think the company that sold her the house should be accountable to make her whole again.
May 14, 2012 9:59PM
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This woman was a victim of fraud by the entity that sold her the property. They knew exactly what they were doing. Lady, file a fraud case against them.
May 15, 2012 12:46PM
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That sucks!!! What's worse, I bet there isn't a blood sucking, ambulance chasing attorney in the whole county would will take this case without a substantial amount of money up front from the unemployed victims.

 

My suggestions:

1. Ask realtor for their business or professional liability insurance info and file a claim with insurance company.

2. If this state uses title companies to handle closings, file a claim on the title insurance.  

May 15, 2012 10:43AM
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Sadly it boilds down to buyer beware. I bought a piece of land listed as a buildable house lot with rural zoning, turns out the land was under resource protection and I couldn't touch even one shrub. I had checked with the local code enforcement officer prior to the purcharce about obtaining permits and was told "no problem"  Ha, what a joke! Spent thousands of dollars on 2 mortgages for more than a year, had to hire an attorney who did nothing but took my money. Title insurance won't cover this type of dispute. I finally contacted DEP to confirm the zoning and they determined after 3 site visits that the setbacks were measured wrong. The zoning of my property was changed at the next town meeting because DEP informed them that I had grounds for a lawsuit. The realtor never admitted she was wrong so I filed a complaint with the real estate comission board in hopes it would prevent this from happening to someone else in the future.

May 15, 2012 1:26AM
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Platbook.  Any time I've had to deal with transfer of property ownership, I've gone to the courthouse or the local municipal authority and requested to view everything they have on file concerning the property.  There are records for every square inch of land in America, you just have to ask.  You could even order one online for a hefty sum, and see how much land your neighbors and friends actually own.  
And was there no house number near the front door or on the mailbox?  The realtors should reimburse every penny this woman spent, and both parties should learn basic researching skills.
May 15, 2012 7:15AM
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Why is there nothing in the article about the REAL owners of the property she upgraded?  Seems like she could make some sort of deal with them (??).  Glad she's got a good sense of humor about it all...
May 15, 2012 12:39PM
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hope she gets more than what she has spent on this house...everyone from the realtor, mortgage company, etc screwed up on this...
May 14, 2012 8:42PM
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Did the house have a numbered address??? Did they have a survey??? Why no title co.??? How did they get the deed to the property??? Maybe some of these procedures should be incorporated in buying or selling a property?
May 15, 2012 12:25PM
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WOW, I would be furious with my realtor. After all it is up to them to make sure they are showing the right property. I really feel for that lady, hopefully something can be done to remedy the horrible situation.
May 15, 2012 10:02AM
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Neglectful agent......what an airhead!
May 15, 2012 1:43PM
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Dependency on automation or not, the simple fact is, the Realtor and the Real Estate Agency company are liable for the error in the paperwork.
May 15, 2012 12:00PM
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This lady definitely needs to go after the real estate company on this.  That state has a Real Estate Commission and they need to know what happened.  This agent could lose their Real Estate License.  Also the lady can go into small claims court and recoup some of her money or she can file in state court for her loss. 
May 15, 2012 12:22AM
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Maybe she has the option of placing a lien on the home since it wasn't her mistake, the realtor should own up or she should take adverse possession.
May 15, 2012 8:11AM
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Realtors are either stupid, negligent or crooks.  I bet she bought it through ReMax.  Had a terrible transaction with them myself.  They messed everything up so badly and they dared to tell us it wasn't their responsibility to know about the property!  They hired the title company that DID research the property but never disclosed any of the findings until they mailed our copies to us weeks later.  I just happened to find all of it when reading it.  We never signed any of it, but they claim they only have to research it, not disclose the info.  People think they are doing the right thing buying through a realtor and title company but your better off trying your odds in Vegas.  At least there you know your getting ripped off but at least you have fun doing it.

BTW, contacted a awyer and the same thing, more trouble than it is worth for them.  So like everything else, people get away with it bc others are lazy.

May 15, 2012 3:11PM
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SOMEBODY NEED TO REIMBURSE TERRY FOR THE MISTAKE.  IT WAS THE REAL ESTATE AGENT AND THE MORTGAGE COMPANY WHO MADE THE MISTAKE SO THEY NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT AND MAKE THE MONEY RIGHT.
May 15, 2012 4:13PM
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HOW DID SHE WORK ON THE HOUSE WITHOUT PAPER WORK COMPLETE FROM TITLE SEARCH ..... TOO WEIRD
May 15, 2012 12:03PM
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I wonder if the listing and selling broker/company are the same company. If the for sale sign and lock box were at the wrong home, who put them there? Sounds like a great reason to have a property survey done prior to signing closing docs. Unless both properties are owned by the same seller, someone (agent or title company) should have caught the seller's name didn't match between title work and sales contract.
May 15, 2012 9:08AM
avatar

Number 1, file a claim with the title insurance company.

Number 2, You can file in court yourself without a lawyer and sue the real estate agent.

Number 3, file in court yourself and sue the broker in charge at the office.

Number 4 file in court yourself and sue Remax corporate.

All brokers, offices and agents carry errors and omissions insurance. The minute you sue their insurance companies step in and I guarantee you it will cost them more to defend than just paying you to go away. Also be sure and sue for fraud as it carries treble damages. 

 

The judges are not suppossed to help you in the courtroom but I have rarely seen a judge who won't help a pro se claimant. But, my guess is you will never even get to the first hearing. They will settle.  

May 15, 2012 7:30AM
avatar
Seems the are was full of foreclosed homes with different mortgage companies..Just another ploy to steal your money..If I were Jordan I would go to court.. 
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