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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39027
Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired (mostly)
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I sold 47 wooded acres to someone for a large amount of money,with

Customer Question

I sold 47 wooded acres to someone for a large amount of money,with $25,000.00 to be paid every 3months. The buyer developed and subdivided the property. Two years later the buyer couldn't pay anymore, so he defaulted on the contract and I got the property back. The problem is that the subdivision resulted in 20 two acre lots and I only got back 7 lots. He gave 5 of the prime lots to his partner to buy him out. I feel like I've been severely took. Is there anything I can do to maybe get back something from this person?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.

Did you convey title to the property to this developer, or was the contract such that you would not convey title until the contract was completely paid in full?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
When he would sell a lot, he would have me sign off on that lot.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.
I'm sorry -- I don't know what "sign off" means. Did you transfer title to each sold lot, to the lot owners when the property was sold, or quitclaim title to each individual lot once sold to the developer?

And if you did transfer/quitclaim title, did you do this for the five prime lots?

Sorry to be so picky -- I just want to make sure I understand exactly what's happened here.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Each time he sold a lot I would transfer a quick claim. I did not release anything on the 5 prime lots.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.
Okay, well then you are stuck regarding the properties that you actually quitclaimed -- but as for the other five that you did not, the person who purportedly was sold these properties has no legal title, and therefore he/she is a trespasser, unless he/she proves that there was a valid sale and that you were obligated to transfer title. So, if you see this person start to build or otherwise take possession of any of the five lots, then call the sheriff/police and have them removed immediately. Make sure you have a certified copy of your deed to the land with you to show any officer who requests proof.

If law enforcement refuses to act, then you would have to sue for civil trespass, and this person who claims to be the buyer would have to prove that he/she has the right to legal title from you. Otherwise, if law enforcement removes the person from the property, then he/she would have to sue you for breach of contract.

This gets messy because of the developer and your contract with him. There could be some fraud involved -- or, it could be that he simply ran out of dough. But, once he stopped paying and went into default, you no longer had any obligation to perform any title transfers. So, there are some timing issues involved. Regardless, at this point in time, if you haven't transferred title, then you have the high ground, because your title would have to be defeated by a court declaration before the other party could transfer the land to someone else, or develop it, or otherwise.

Hope this helps.