How To Avoid Being Conned Or Stuck When Buying Land, A Home, Or Land With A Home, And Easy Ways To Find And Acquire Them.

This guest post by MountainSurvivor and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

pic of for sale signAbout fifteen years ago, when I went to Oklahoma with a friend of mine, we met a man in his mid- to late-fifties that offered to sell us some land that he said he owned. When we went to look at the piece, we saw a small travel trailer sitting there, surrounded by dense stickery brush, and he told us what a good deal he would make us. After we headed out to discuss buying it from him, the next door neighbor down the road stopped us and asked us if he was trying to sell us the land. When they learned that he was, the neighbor informed us that the guy did not own the three-quarter acre that he had shown us and that his mother had willed him a measly ten feet from the edge of the dirt road. We were relieved that we had not been conned and taken for every cent that we had.

The other day, I was looking at a house on about an acre of land that was for sale on the internet and thought, for the price of about sixteen hundred dollars I could own it, clean it up and either keep it or sell it for a bit of pocket change. Well, after further investigation, I learned that there was no house at the address that the advertiser had specified nor was there anything in the vicinity for sale which even resembled what I saw on the site. All the red flags were up and I ran as fast as my mouse would click.

The world is full of con artists so anxious to stuff their pockets with greenbacks that they will steal you blind if they have the slightest of chances. But not today because I am going to give you a crash course that will help you avoid looking like a meal for the ruthless vultures. Now, I am not a real estate agent nor do I know the laws of every state but the principal I am about to share may be applied no matter where you are looking at buying a home or land.

Well, here we go. First, you must look at the land, walk it and verify that the corner posts are in. If you cannot find any then the seller needs to show you exactly where they are. The corner posts are placed into the ground to determine where every edge of a parcel of ground sits. Without a survey, a land owner will not know where to put a fence, home, buildings, garden, etc. and be assured that they are not infringing on their neighbor’s dirt. Again, verify that a survey has been done by seeing, for yourself, that the posts really are in place.

Second, you need to do a little easy footwork which will probably take you under thirty minutes per parcel. You should never sign a contract or hand over any cash/trade until you personally, or by phone, contact the Treasurer as well as the Assessor of the County where the land or home is located because their records will enable them to tell you who the actual owner is, what their address is, how much the land is valued at, if the taxes are current or delinquent, the type of use the land has been zoned for such as Recreational which will not allow you to be there year round, Residential which is usually year round or Ranchland which has it’s own set of rules that are dependent upon the location, possibly if the land is landlocked or legally accessible as well as other details of which only they can tell you about.

If you do not know how to ask for the details, just tell them that you are looking to buy Parcel Number (such and such) in (whatever) County and would like to know what they have on record. For obtaining the specifications, always have a pen and paper handy, know the parcel number and/or site (situs) address, and the seller’s or real estate agent’s name. Also, most Counties have web sites and there are many which provide parcel, tax and other information which is made available to the public.

Please note that, in certain parts of the country, the EPA has a choke hold on land so, if there is a source of water on or nearby a piece they may require that you have an Ecological Study done which will tell you whether or not you can even live on it but be prepared to pay through the nose, or far more than the land’s worth. And, when purchasing any home or land, verify that an illegal drug dealer, user or manufacturer had ever used the premises because, if they were, the chemicals or drugs that may be left behind can affect your health.

Third, an Escrow Agent must always be involved because their job is to find out if the title is free and clear. You do not want to purchase a parcel of land or home only to later find out that you cannot take full possession because there is a lien or other things tying up the title.

Looking for land is simple if you know where to look or how to search for it. A lot of land goes through Real Estate Agencies and some agents keep a list of properties that they were advertising which they can refer back to if you ask them in a nice way.

Driving around looking for “For Sale” signs, empty or dilapidated houses and paths that are used by vehicles which head onto a parcel of land can lead you right to a purchase.

House and Land Brokers may have what you are looking for or they may know someone who does. Never overlook a broker because they are in business for selling and turning a profit. Check with them for “fixers” that need attention/tlc because if they have been sitting on something for a long time, they are not making any money, and no money means their pockets are not filling up. If you run into a stubborn broker, one that would rather not sell because they believe the right buyer will come along, just move on and keep trying because, odds are, the tables will turn in your favor.

Banks finance homes and sometimes land. They also like to sell what they foreclose upon because they do not want to lose the interest they would have made by the time the contracts were to be fulfilled. So, all you have to do is call a bank, ask to speak with someone in their loan department and then ask that individual if the bank has any foreclosures.

County Offices are notorious for selling homes, land, and homes with land, foreclosed and abandoned. They acquire them when the owners fail to pay their taxes after a certain period of time. This is where the public lucks out because for the price of the unpaid back taxes they can purchase the properties outright. And they can do so through either the regular annual or multiple yearly auctions, or surplus sales which are properties which did not sell at the County-held auction(s). To obtain the properties, most Counties require that you submit a bid with payment and then, if your bid is accepted, they will provide you with legal documentation. The County Treasurer always knows when an auction will be held, will have a list of available properties to be auctioned and important information and facts that only they can provide to you as every County and State varies in regards to their rules and bidding processes.

The Internet contains millions of properties for sale. There is so much of it that it would take you years to get through it all. If you like to find things on your own but want to know what to type into the search box, enter “cheap acreage for sale in (the state or location where you are looking)” or “cheap fixers for sale in (again, the state or location where you are interested)”. You could also type in the first two letters of the state followed by or check your state’s MLS (Multiple Listing Service) which is generally free to the public.

“Owner financing”, “no- or low-down” and “low monthly payments” can be a little hard to find so it is important that you specify that information in the search process but do not give up if you do not find what you are seeking right off. Just be patient and persistent because a search engine contains a lot of information that you may have to sift through before you are successful.

Hopefully our economy will not turn out to be like Greece’s or any nation that has suffered with bankruptcy and we find ourselves “wishing” we had found property and stuck in situations where we cannot even plant food because there is no room, regulations prevent us or we do not have the means or supplies to. Those who have not found their dirt pie in the sky, what are you waiting for? Do not let your current situation determine when you may begin. Start looking now, begin rounding up the money by selling what you can and working a few extra jobs whenever possible to fill up the piggy bank to secure your future asap.

M.D. Creekmore adds: I found my current property on this website – the bank had foreclosed on it and I bought it directly from the bank.

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rulesthat are listed below first… Yes

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Let me reemphasize, make sure you find out what the site what previously used for. I had one group interested in buying a piece of property that was about 150 acres that they were asking about $100,000 for. Luckily we found out that it had been used as a dump, back before there were regulations against that, and a friend in the state version of the EPA said that it would take a minimum of $200,000 to clean it up, and that was if the required $100,000 in testing didn’t show any hidden problems.

  2. HomeINsteader says:

    Good piece, MountainSurvivor, but red flags are popping up. May I share some of what I’ve learned over the years (and I have been a licensed real estate agent):

    . Much of the info you’ll need can be found online, under your local county’s online records, although not all counties have created such databases online yet; otherwise, a trip to your country courthouse would be quite useful, as opposed to over the phone, IMHO.

    . Read information carefully on a listing; it’s usually a clue as to why the land is still available. We’re going into spring – even in a bad economy, it’s the “hot” season for real estate, and land in remote areas is catching on, so, if it has been on the market very long, you’d best find out why. How you can tell? Well, if it has an MLS number, those will tell you. Ask in your state how they are assigned numbers, but, usually, they will begin or end with the year, as in “13”; example: MLS just listed a property for Joe Schmo Real Estate; the system generated the next up number, which happens to be, 131096. This means that piece of property was listed in 2013, and is the 1,096th piece of property listed by that particular MLS office this year. All real estate agencies in a given market will be a member of the local MLS. If the date is January, 2013, and the land has an MLS number of, say: 104963, that land has been on the market since 2010. Better find out why. Not all MLS offices uses the same numbering system, so, ask. This will tell you what you are looking at.

    When we were shopping for our BOL, we looked at land that sound really good on the websites – even with experience, we got “fooled”; some of them had deep ravines, and this was what they were selling; one was “10” acres” but you could only access 3, because of the many deep ravines, and they were too deep to be able to afford to “bridge”. Those are the questions that must be answered. Why is it so cheap? There’s always a reason.

    . Real estate is no different than anything else. If it looks too good to be true, best find out why, because it is. You will pay the going rate for real estate OF THAT KIND, IN THAT PARTICULAR AREA. If you get a “great deal”, there’s always a reason. Sometimes it is a “must sell”, but find out why.

    . Another good reason to find a good agent and have them on your side is this: when the first deal fell through, our agent now knew us and knew exactly what we wanted, what we could pay, etc. She called us one day (we live in a sister state) and told us she had our land, but we needed to move fast; another agent had just been given a huge parcel to sell; it was broken up, she had scouted it in person, and knew exactly which parcel would be our choice. She was right. Again, she’s worth her weight in gold!

    . When you get a seller willing to carry a note, low down payment, etc., these are clues that something else is going on; better find out what. Be very careful about such deals; I’m not saying they can’t help you, just approach with great caution.

    A family member (of ours) who couldn’t afford a big, fancy house in a major city found they could buy it through the current owner. Woo-hoo! They were so intent on impressing the world with their “stuff”! It was a great deal! They bought a house they could show to everyone, complete with indoor pool – a house we couldn’t pay the taxes on, and we ain’t broke (not yet, anyway!). It was a real showplace! they made their payments on time for two years…then found out the owners had not been making payments to the bank, had, in fact, pocketed all the payments, the bank came and took the property back, and they never owned it in the first place. A very expensive (and heart-breaking) lesson learned. Use a real estate lawyer, folks – not one “they” picked, but one you agree to, for any such “transactions”. This is no place to try to save money.

    . A Broker is someone who spent enough years as an agent, and passed enough exams, to get a Broker’s license; they no longer have their finger on the pulse of the market, but, rather, spend their days collecting paychecks when agents sell real estate. Use an agent; a broker will likely just refer you to one of their agents, anyway.

    . Not all agents are equal. For example, when we asked around in the community we decided we wanted to buy land in, we asked the locals. Locals DO have their fingers on the pulse in their communities. We avoided the agent who had the most advertising around; one guy told us he didn’t know how the guy was still alive, because of the way he had done some people. That was a clue not use him! ; )

    . A good agent is worth their weight in gold; I have one (NW AR) who I would recommend to ANYONE, and I guarantee you, she ain’t in it for $$$ – if she were, she would have dumped us! (She worked very hard for that pittance she collected; she has made enough money over the years, she now does it to help people – and is very sincere in that ministry). She called me this week; she’s following up because a couple of acres adjacent to our property are now for sale, dirt cheap, and she wanted to make sure we knew about it first. That’s what I’m talking about! She will not make enough off this deal to make it worth her time; that is not her motivation, clearly.

    . A good agent will have or know how to get all of this information for you.

    . Neighbors can and do remove or change markers. It’s illegal, but they don’t care. Don’t scout a piece of property by this alone. Have a survey not less than one year old; in most states, you can’t get a loan without a recent survey, anyway. So, unless you’re paying cash…get a new survey. Someone will have to pay for that, but it will be well worth it, and save you major expenses and headaches down the road.

    We made an offer on property we thought we wanted; the property was listed by a family member of the owner (this should always be “red flag”. The survey provided was old and very difficult to read; when we visited the property, we could not visually match the property to what we thought we were looking at on the survey. We wrote the offer to include a current survey, and offered to pay 50% of the cost. Seller refused. Deal dead. If you get an obstinate seller, walk away. Bad juju comin’, as SD likes to say.

    . Again, unless you are paying cash, most lenders will require a current appraisal, meaning not less than six (6) months old. Someone is going to have to pay for that. If the seller hasn’t provided a current appraisal, make it part of any offer.

    . Be aware that if you are using a lender, under current rules, you may need a minimum of 35% down, but, ask; different lenders have different rules, depending on how badly they want to generate new loans right now. You can also use real property to which you hold title as part of a downpayment, or maybe the whole thing, depending on the lender; this might include a vehicle in good condition that you have title to, for example.

    MountainSurvivor is absolutely right – if you do your homework in advance, know what questions to ask, know what to do and what not to do, know how you can pay for it (that’s important!) you CAN find the property you want at the price you are willing to pay…just don’t expect any “freebies”, because there aren’t any, and don’t be surprised if everyone you meet isn’t looking after your best interest!

    • HomeINsteader says:

      OH, and, yes! as John Wheeler points out, find out how it was previously used. We looked at “cheap” property that was a landfill!

      Also, ask about mineral rights. Most land today has mineral rights that have been bought out by someone, and you can’t do anything about that…all you need is someone to come onto your BOL and start setting up a drill..and they may have every legal right to do so! Include in your offer to purchase a statement to the effect that buyer retains all mineral rights not currently owned by other (or, whatever language works in that state); your agent should know this, too. Otherwise, if you want to pop a few hundred dollars extra, you can have a specialist run a mineral search for you to find out who owns those rights.

      • Dean in Michigan says:

        Wow HomeINsteader….

        Love the feedback……..very informative. In process of looking for property. Thank you for the intel.

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      Good points here. One thing though, in Oregon every real estate agent is a Broker. The state made changes several years ago to the licensing. So if you’re in Oregon…a Principal Broker would be the one in charge of others. Although, with the current real estate market there are many, many Principal Brokers who work for themselves as a small office (myself included).

      Most of us if they are honest will tell you that the market is so bad they are working two jobs…myself included. If you’ve cash this is the best time to buy.

      The lenght of time a property is on the market can indeed be an indicator of a problem. I’ve two home acerage sites listed and they’ve been on the market for a while. The problem there was having to work through a long, long County process so homes could be built. They had told my seller 6 weeks…turned into almost 2 years!

  3. My wife and I purchased some property a couple of years ago.

    Both we (the buyer) and the seller used a licensed Realtor.
    We used a title / escrow company for the close.
    We checked with the county on the property before we made our offer.

    And it STILL got screwed up!!!!

    Turns out, making a long story short, that an unscrupulous person had made an illegal split of the property at some point. He sold off half to a woman to build a home on. She lost it to her lending bank when times first got hard.

    The person I bought it from had acquired the property through a debt repayment. (the debtor also had no idea about the split – fraud was involved).

    So the Bank and the seller both believed that they owned the property! Imagine our surprise!

    In the end it took three lawyers (my business attorney, a real estate lawyer and a litigator) two years to fix the mess. Talk about a paper work nightmare. And this is with all parties really trying to get it fixed. I can’t imagine what it would have been like had anyone tried to fight.

    The seller ended up buying out the bank (for a premium – blood sucking bankers!!), returning us all our legal fees and paying for an extended title insurance policy on the property. The title / escrow company had to chip in to the seller as well. (the seller ended up spending more than what we payed – but I think he was a fairly honorable man.) Oh, and the illegal land splitter was visited by our friendly FBI gentlemen and has since been indited for fraud by a federal grand jury. (our property was actually not part of the case – there were so many others they didn’t even bother to add ours)

    The moral of this story – use caution, do your due diligence and use competent professionals. Had we not dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” during our purchase, this would have been much more difficult to correct.

  4. riverrider says:

    don’t forget to ask about water/mineral/timber rights. i have found parcels beautifully treed for sale, but the “timber reserved”, meaning the timber has been sold on the stump and at some later date a timber co. will move in and cut it all down, usually destroying the property in the effort. great post and timely, thanks!!!

    • HomeINsteader says:

      EXCELLENT points, rr, and very serious at times. Some states are more scary than others but, particularly if you live in places like Colorado, California, Oregon….be very clear water, timber, and mineral rights…you need to do this EVERYWHERE, but the laws in those states, at least according to what I’ve read, should scare a potential buyer!

  5. Thanks all for the info.

    My personal problems is property with restrictions on in. Use restrictions placed upon the land by a previous owner. They call them covenants here. I refuse to buy land where the previous owner(s) still get to say how it will be used.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      Another good point, JP. Something else people should know – if you buy real estate with covenants and restrictions AND YOU TAKE A MORTGAGE LOAN (didn’t pay cash), most mortgage loan agreements are being written today that if the buyer violates the covenants and restrictions in any way, the lender has the right to call the loan. Read your mortgage documentation, folks! You may be shocked.

  6. The subject is so complex, books have been written about it, literally. I know that Finding And Buying Your Place In The Country is probably one of the best and is now in its 5th edition. Originally written for hippies, most of it still applies to the rest of us.

  7. I was a real estate investor and also a title examiner for a few years. Always buy OWNERS title insurance. The mortgage title insurance is to protect the bank, not you, and expires when the loan is paid off. Title insurance insures against things that happened in the past, that might not even have showed up on the title: fraud by previous owners, unknown heirs of estates that were not named, etc. Owners title insurance costs twice what mortgage title insurance does but the reason for that is that most people don’t keep a mortgage for all 30 years, and really the bank’s interest isn’t as much as the owner’s.

    When a title problem occurs then the title insurance first tries to clear the title. Their last resort is to pay someone money. If there’s a title problem involving a person that can’t be found, you can file a lawsuit to quiet the title, filing one costs around $1500 or $2000 and it takes 6 months to a year to get it through the courts. It’s sort of like a foreclosure only it’s the owner doing the foreclosing. Owners title insurance would cover the cost of that.

    Also, always ask for a General Warranty Deed if you buy privately (i.e. not from the tax authority or a bank that foreclosed). You might not be able to get a GW deed from the tax man or a bank, so go with what you can get. A Quit Claim Deed on the other hand guarantees nothing about the title, it’s only good for things like divorces, or to clear someone off the title who has no interest in it – like the long lost heir that pops up. All it says is they quit their claim – doesn’t even mean they had a claim to begin with.

    Also, call down to the utilities companies and find out if they have liens on the place. Ask what the average utilities were for the last 12 months. And look for building orders from the building department. Those things won’t show up on a title search.

    If you’re buying an apartment building ask for Schedule E for the previous 2 years from the seller. Some sellers will defer maintenance to make their apartment building look more profitable on paper, but it’s harder to get away with 2 straight years of that than one.

    Whole house inspections are pricey but can be worth it – but a whole house inspector also isn’t a specialist. They might miss something a specialist might have caught. (i.e. weird plumbing). So if there is something that just doesn’t seem right, get the specialized inspector too.

    You can waste money to overanalyze a deal, but at the same time people have tried to pull fast ones in real estate for centuries – it’s a big dollar item. From plastering over structural cracks in walls just before listing, to new paint and carpet on a house that’s got bad majors, to not mentioning the broken septic tank, to funny business with the title and lending. Sometimes real estate professionals collude with crooked sellers and you get inflated appraisals, weird kickbacks, etc. Don’t use the same agent as the seller.

    • HomeINsteader says:

      I agree, PP, that one should never use the seller’s agent, a.k.a., “listing agent”, as the buying agent – they should not be the same person, ever, IMHO. In most states today, laws are specific for each time of agency, which some agents argue is a “safeguard” for sellers and buyers (don’t bet on it!).

      When you use the same agent who listed the property as a buying agent, this creates a conflict for the agent (although not all of them will be honest enough to admit this) – what they can and cannot reveal to the sellers, what they can and can not reveal to the prospective buyers. And sometimes, probably all too often, agents “cross a line” in that information – this can be very costly to one or both parties of any real estate transaction.

      Translation: just never use the agent who listed a property to also buy that same property; along that same vein, I’d be very cautious about using an agent to buy who works out of (is licensed or brokered in) the same office with a listing agent. We just did that, but only because we know OUR agent is completely trustworthy and looking out for our best interests FIRST AND FOREMOST. Sometimes, however, agents will have more of a sense of loyalty to a fellow agent in the same office than to their client. After all, the client is going to come and go, but, their co-worker will still be there…and that co-worker/agent has been so very nice to them in the past!

      Just a word of warning to prospective buyers here. Be very clear with your agent when you share information you do not want shared with ANYONE, no exceptions (info that could ostensibly affect your deal).

      • I had to laugh at this one. Working in an office where we have over 50% of the local market share, the agents in my office are my biggest competition. Loyalty to my client is a legal obligation for agents in Pennsylvania, as is confidentiality. Do I feel some loyalty to my manager, of 40 agents, and to my head broker, of 1000 agents? Sure, but to my fellow agents I just have professional courtesy. And successful real estate agents don’t have clients come and go, they have clients for life.

  8. Texanadian says:

    If you have an address you can also use google earth or even the weather channel to get a birds eye view of the property, not always up to date depending on the map, but will give you a general overview and save some petrol.

  9. This is why I love reading what all of you have to say. I have been looking for property. Some of this I would have NEVER thought of. I have little money so I have to be really careful. Thank you all!

  10. harold kirkpatrick says:

    Harold K.
    Thank you for the post. This is just what my wife and I need to help with our continued strugle to find a place in the country before the SHTF. We are 15 years in to our current home lone. The bank keeps trying to get us to refinance at a lower rate. I just don’t see how this will be beneficial for us. We keep looking for something we can buy out right and then sell the home we have in the city. We could pay it off but we would be left with little money for the country home. I just hope we cna find a ploace before the city falls appart. This was realy helpful!

  11. Good gosh, I have had some of your experiences too…Found out this guy selling 40 acres to my family was a scam when I told him I was investigating it with the county, and office of mining in Wy. He then changed his mind “not to sell it” and disappeared. He told my son in law “we were asking too many questions”.

  12. MountainSurvivor says:

    To everyone, thank you for your helpful and invaluable comments.

  13. Many good suggestions from the pack on real estate. My parents were real estate developers and I learned from personal experience that people do move survey markers, bury garbage and pull a lot of less than honorable tactics to reel in victims.

    Local banks are a good resource to find foreclosed properties, heck that’s how we purchased our last one a couple years ago. But having been schooled in real estate fraud we went to the local county assessors office and had him look up the parcels we were interested in. He found the former owner had not paid taxes for 2 years thus back taxes and fines were due. He also printed us out a plat map showing the property boundaries and who the neighbors were. It is a rural property that might not easily sell without a home on it. As a condition of a cash sale we had the bank pay all real estate taxes, fines, recording of the deed and for major cleanup of the property before we took possession. The bank paid to have trash hauled away and the site cleaned up. The bank was very happy to sell the property since it was the 3rd time they foreclosed on it over the past 5 years. We were happy to get it at a bargain basement price.

    Long story short, we did some leg-work and dug to make sure the land was free, clear, had an accurate survey and was attractively priced. Do your homework, the old adage “buyer beware” still applies but real bargains are out there.

  14. Dean in Michigan says:

    Thx MountainSurvivor……..

    This is right up my alley. Looking for property. Wish I could leave Michigan.

    How’s that Cumberland Plateau M.D.? Are there jobs there?

  15. HomeINsteader says:

    Dean, MD and I have had this discussion, and he feels very strongly that he is in the right place (Tennessee Cumberland Plateau area); I also feel very strongly that I am in the right place. Might want to look at both Tennessee and N.W. Arkansas. Notice I am very specific on area. Stay clear of the tourist trap areas, however. Still can get cheap land. Email me at [email protected] and I’ll point you specifically to some that I know about, if you’re interested in NW Arkansas. I started to warn you that it is does get cold – then I remembered that you’re in Michigan – you can handle cold weather! (And it doesn’t get THAT cold for THAT long!).

    • Dean in Michigan says:

      Thanks HomeINsteader……..

      I will definitely hit you up so I can look into that. And yes, I have had my fill of the cold. My daughter didn’t have to go to school on Tuesday thanks to the 2 degree temps with a -18 degree wind chill.

      I’ve been through cold weather training, but that is just stupid:)

      • Having been here in North Central Arkansas for two years now, I can highly recommend this area. Cheap to live here compared to pretty much any place else we looked. Lots of like minded people. Four true seasons. Out of the mainstream for sure. Privacy not only respected but protected. Anyone looking toward self sufficiency should take a serious look at the Ozarks.

      • PS: GREAT initial post and followups. VERY useful to anyone looking for land.

  16. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good one especially as so many good folks are looking to relocate to safer spaces.

  17. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  18. HomeINsteader says:

    Welcome, Art! Look forward to mutual learning.

  19. There are so many pitfalls to buying real estate that entire libraries could be written on the how too’s and the not to dos. Each and every case is individual and the type of handling may vary greatly. I bought our little 3/4 acre ” Grim Acres” on contract from the legal owner of record after several attempts to sell it fell through. An after hours conversation with one of the girls in the county treasurers office netted me a week later with a packet of information concerning the property for which she received a dozen red roses and a first harvest of green beans tomatoes and corn from my first year garden there. She had compiled a full folder containing a title search in depth going back to when the property first came on the tax rolls with all of the information the County Clerks Office and the County Tax Assessor had on the Property. A diligent search and consultations with legal folks revealed that a real estate attorney was not really require to handle the transaction and that I could even write the contract myself provided it withstood the scrutiny of the Vounty and the State. I was even able to draw up the warranty deed provided I followed the state’s guidelines which consisted of leaving enough room at the top of the first page to allow then tax and the real estate transfers to be affixed. Among the paperwork taken the information I had gotten from the county to the lady and we sat down to go over the material. One of the two items forestalling the transfer was an unreleased lien for taxes. This did not show with the assessors file from her office but just with the county clerk. The lady got out an accordion file containing the abstract 0f title (records on this parcel go back to 1823) and all of her paperwork. One of the pertinent items was the lien release properly annotated with date signature and notary. The other item was a quitclaim deed properly executed and noted as filed with the county clerks office but not posted. A trip with the lady to the county clerks office straightened these matters out and an advice by the judge that my contract for purchase and the warranty deed met the legal requirements, our business with the county clerks office was concluded. A title search would have done no good since this old lady would not have even talked to a strange attorney, and she would only trust our bank. A down payment, seventeen months of monthly payments later it was adjudicated and we paid the final balance leaving us the owners of Grim Acres, our own little “faller downer” as opposed to a “fixer upper”.

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