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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 118277
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I purchased a property eight years ago foreclosure. it had

Customer Question

I purchased a property eight years ago foreclosure. it had a fence completely around it. It turns out that this property was two lots that I did not know. It only had one mailbox which was mine. Just last week someone came and tore down the fence on one side of my property. they started cleaning weeds and cutting trees. He said he purchased the lot next to me. He never would show me documents. He said if I wanted to buy the property it will increase $4,000. he also never showed how much he purchased it for. I looked at my signed documents and looked up the lots. It is on two lots. I thought I was buying the fenced in property but the size was only one lot that I signed for. The lady next door said the previous owner purchased the extra lot from the man who owned it and fenced it in. This was done years before I purchased. What do I do next. I think he purchased a tax sell.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, this can happen in foreclosure sales or any other sale, which is why before making these purchases the deeds need to be examined and the documents need to be reviewed (since you did not do so before purchase and the documents did specify only one lot, you do not have much of an argument on that basis).

Now, how long was the fence around the second lot with your property? Have you been using the property of the second lot openly as though it was your property?

Also, $4000 over what the new owner paid for it is a reasonable profit, but if it sold at tax sale and that is where he bought it, you can find out what was paid as it is public record and you do so by contacting the tax assessor. It also does not mean that just because he may want $4000 over what he paid, that he will not take less and you can still negotiate with him over that (if there is no possibility of seeking ownership in some other means, which I will discuss with you when you answer my above questions).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The fence has been around the property for over ten years. we have been using the property and mowing the grass because we thought it was ours. Do I pay for every response to you?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. You do not have to pay for every response to me, you have merely made a deposit which is not released to the expert (who is not an employee of this site) until you leave positive feedback when we are done answering your question about this specific issue.

If the owner who owned your property also owned the lot next door at one point up to the foreclosure, this is going to be a problem, because you cannot use a process called "tacking" for the purposes of claiming "adverse possession" which is your only way to lay a legal claim to that land next to you.

Under GA law, in order for you to have a claim pursuant to adverse possession, you had to openly/notoriously, continuously, and against the rights of the true owner (hostile) possess the land for a period of 20 years (since you do not have any claim under some type of alleged title to that land which would reduce the time to 7 years). Openly, means it had to be visible and continuous use of the property that is seen by all. Continuously, means you had to use the land as your land on a regular continuing basis. Hostile means that the owner of the land could not have given consent or permission to use the land (this is why when the lots were owned by the same owner their possession was not hostile so it could not be used to add to your time possessing or using the land).

Since you do not have color of title (a document claiming to transfer both lots to you) the statutory time in GA for adverse possession is 20 years, whereas if the documents you had stated anything about the other lot then you could claim 7 years under color of title. So having those documents closely examined by a local real estate attorney to make sure you cannot fit this into a color of title adverse possession would be in your best interests.

Other than adverse possession claim, you are going to have to negotiate this with the new owner and you start by contacting the assessor to see what he paid for it so you know how to negotiate with him to try to get him to sell to you.