How to get rid of worthless land in Pennsylvania

12 Replies

How do you dispose of a property in an HOA community with HOA fees that no one wants. The HOA will not take it back as a gift. Charities do not want it because of the HOA fees. These lots are not being purchased at tax sale. A ruling in the PA courts say that until the land is deeded away, the deed holder is responsible for taxes and HOA fees. This court ruling was made regarding another lot in the same Pocono community.

Lot was purchased before changes in codes.  Lot is now too small for septic.  The only way that I can think of to make this land profitable would be to buy neighboring lots to where this lot would be usable.  My family does not have the resources for this.

Has anyone else in Pennsylvania come across a situation like this and how was the property dispose. The property is currently owned by my parents who have been paying the HOA fees on this land since the 60s I think.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Research the neighbors and call/mail them. Some HOAs/Counties will allow you to combine adjacent lots which eliminates the extra HOA fee or taxes. This also could allow adjacent smaller lots to add septic or work around other building issues (setbacks, etc). My best call ever was then I called the neighbor to see about buying his lot and he offered to buy my lot instead :)

@Susan Herman

I don't know all the facts and it's hard to say without taking a look at all the relevant documents. With that caveat in mind: 

  • If you fail to pay the underlying real-estate taxes, you will lose the property at a judicial tax sale. If no one buys it, it ends up in the repository. For better or worst, that's where most of these "worthless" properties end up.  
  • HOA fees are trickier. Note that many planned communities and development were created with green spaces in mind. They intentionally made it impossible for people to build anything on these vacant areas because they wanted the area to have a spacious feel. Unfortunately, these properties can pose a lot of legal headaches depending on how it got dealt with.

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

I already tried the neighboring lots.  I was able to reach a relative on the one side.  He was from Massachusetts.  He was the executor to the estate of the couple that owned the lot.  He was not going to have it deeded into his name.  As far as I know, he didn't plan on doing anything with the lot.  I was never able to contact the owner of the property on the other side.  Unfortunately there are no developed lots right next to theirs.

How much are the HOA fees and taxes? Must not be a huge burden if they've been paid since the 60s. Could keep paying until a new neighbor moves in and try again.

Let is go for tax's unless the HOA can seek a personal judgment just walk away

@Chris K.   maybe chris knows in that state. in the land developments we have been in.

HOAs don't have the money to chase a worthless lot owner and as stated just walk away

Originally posted by Account Closed:

How much are the HOA fees and taxes? Must not be a huge burden if they've been paid since the 60s. Could keep paying until a new neighbor moves in and try again.

The total fees paid for taxes and HOA over the years FAR exceed the value of these lots in the Poconos. The owners just are/were the sort of people who maintain their reputation for good character by paying all of their obligations.

These lots are in the "NEFF" category - Not Even For Free ;)

@Steve Babiak Weird situation lol should complain to local congressman/woman

The HOA fee is now up to $636 for the year. This HOA has and will go over money. See this link:

https://law.justia.com/cases/pennsylvania/superior...

I just came across a comment on the above case that the defended should have started a corporation and transferred just this one asset into the corporation. Then the HOA couldn't go after the individual person. Any thoughts on this??

Thank you all for your input on this situation.

@Susan Herman could you create an LLC and sell it to the LLC. Then let the LLC let it go to tax sale. If the HOA goes after the LLC there is nothing to go after

Great idea @Chris Seveney :) But that begs the question: what to call your LLC? Dumping Ground LLC? We're Broke LLC? HOA Go Away LLC?

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