Roadblocked Newbie Problems

7 Replies

Hi All!!

I'm Curtis here in South Carolina. I'm a newbie and this is my first post to BiggerPockets. This will also be my first purchase, so I'm very excited as well! However, I am asking for advice on the situation I have encountered. 

Finally committed to purchasing my first property and there's a small hiccup. The property is an older home that's still deeded to a deceased owner. There are four years of taxes due for the county, four years of tax liens for the city, and it has never been up for tax auction! I recently learned the next of kin (a son who wants nothing to do with the house) donated the deceased to the state & has a record of bad relationships, roommates, and evictions; and for me has been virtually impossible to contact. 

My question is what are my next steps towards acquiring this property and is there a way to transfer ownership without the next of kin's involvement? 

All feedback is helpful. Thanks in advance for your time. 

Curtis M.

If the current heir of the property is impossible to get in contact with, how did you come across this property?

I am confused on the part where it was donated to the state but has 4 years past due taxes. Typically it would go to tax sale and changed hands already. some more info and specifics on that may be needed to help.

While im all for a deal, sometimes if its your first deal, using an agent and finding an mls property, or even a wholesale property is a better avenue for a first time buyer to help navigate through any problems that may come up. 

You first need to find out who owns the property. the family or the government, if it is the government the sale would likely proceed as a normal sale.  If the family is still the owner you may have to pay for the liens on the property before it is a clear title in your name, this may significantly affect the price you are willing to offer.

@Nicholas Scatton I'm confused as well. I ride by the property all the time and finally decided to make an offer. As far as the taxes are concerned, I checked with the county and they told me some properties "slip through the crack" & couldn't explain this either.

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@Curtis Marant first of all welcome to BP

donated the deceased to the state

I have no idea what you mean by this.  The only way to buy from the deceased owner is buy from the estate. I bet an estate was never opened but it is worth checking. If an estate was opened and the property was never legally transferred to the heirs then the estate may be able to sell it to you. Do you know that the only heir is the son? Could there be other heirs?

Another option is to wait for the property to go to tax sale. Of course now you are competing against other bidders and it may not be a deal. 

is there a way to transfer ownership without the next of kin's involvement? 

Yes but it is usually not very practical. It is called adverse possession. You simply take over the property depending on state law you can eventually apply for ownership. It is sort of a form of squatters rights.  In Maryland it takes 20 years so that is why I say it is not a very practical idea.

Tread carefully!  This sounds like a complicated/opaque ownership situation - I wouldn't sign a contract (or put down a deposit!) until you are certain you know who the true owner is.  Good luck!

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