Friday, April 5, 2013

Woman Who Failed To Search Public Records When Buying Mobile Home At Bankruptcy Auction Now Faces Boot After Foreclosure Of Undisclosed 1st Mortgage

In Polk City, Florida, The Ledger reports:

  • When Sharon Little moved to Polk City in 2005 from International Falls, Minn., she went from the freezer into the fire — in more ways than one.

    Little, 60, was burned to the tune of about $40,000 in a convoluted 2010 real estate deal on a mobile home. She thought she was buying a mobile home and lot for $22,000. Instead she bought the home; property; and, unbeknownst to her, a $20,000 mortgage attached to it.
  • Little put about $18,000 into the home, mostly for improvements like new windows and doors, floor coverings and appliances. That figure includes about $1,600 for lawyers who tried to help her keep the place.

    "This place was a real dump when I bought it," Little said. Now, it's an appealing home by most any standard. "If I can save one person from going through what I've gone through, then doing this story is worth it," she said.

    Little has done everything she could to keep her home at 8926 Jericho Court in Polk City but now faces an April 6 eviction.

    The main culprit: When she bought her mobile home and property in a bankruptcy sale in 2010 for $22,000 she didn't realize the $20,000 mortgage was attached to it. Her bid included a $2,000 premium.

    Little didn't do a records search on the property or pay a company to do that, something that usually costs about $125, depending on the work required. "I'll never buy anything like this again for the rest of my life without doing a search," Little said.
  • When people mortgage a standard house they are required to buy title insurance. A title ­company searches the property for any encumbrances, and if it doesn't find any problems but one later surfaces, it becomes the responsibility of the title company, not the homebuyer.

    But mobile homes in Florida are treated like cars, not houses. The title to a mobile home comes from the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
  • In 2010, she saw a woman leaving the vacant mobile home next door. Little said she asked the woman whether the house and property was for sale and was told it was in a bankruptcy proceeding.

    When she bid on it and won at an auction, Little got a quit-claim deed for the property but never got a title for the mobile home. The quit-claim deed contained warning — oft repeated at other points in Little's purchase process — that said: The property is "subject to all liens and encumbrances, if any."

    She said she had no clue what she'd really bought until four months after the auction when she tried to pay her 2010 property taxes but discovered they'd already been paid by Bank of America.

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