Claiming Abandoned Real Estate Properties

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By Adrian Cruce

Although real estate property may be abandoned, it does usually have a legal ownership. Although this is correct, it does not actually mean that you cannot claim it. If you do have all the legal requirements covered, something that does vary from one location to the next, you can take a legal ownership of a property that is abandoned. However, this is definitely a process that is difficult to carry out and there is a lot of inherent risk associated. With this in mind, you do need to consider the following.

Defining Terms

Abandoning real estate process is also known as adverse possession. This is something that allows ownership changes for a real estate property by physically possessing that location for a specific period of time. It is really important that you consult the local jurisdictional entities so that you can determine the steps that have to be taken. In most cases the tax assessor’s office or a county clerk can be contacted to see what you have to do.

The Ambiguity Of Abandonment

The very first of the abandonment steps is to determine if the property is really abandoned. There is a huge difference between legal definition and abandonment perspective. The home that is left unattended for a really long period of time is in theory abandoned. From the legal point of view, the owner needs to have left the property and have no wish to come back. It is important to prove that this is the case in order to claim abandoned real estate properties.

The Importance Of Research

In order to make sure that the claim is legal, it is important to conduct a proper research. Try to locate the owner. There are many unattended houses that appeared because of high foreclosure rates. In many cases the owner of the abandoned property is a bank that owns assets due to foreclosures. Based on what you are going to discover based on research, risks can be decided. For instance, how likely is it that the owner will take a legal action? If risks are low, you can go ahead with the process.

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Open and hostile possession is necessary to initiate the process. Hostile basically means that you enter that property without or with the knowledge of the owner. It is important to show intent of taking over ownership. You do this by making property improvements and by actually paying property taxes. You should never hide the fact that you are taking over. Occupation should be uninterrupted and exclusive for a specific time frame. This will usually vary from 3 to thirty years based on particular situation and jurisdiction.

Low Success Rates

Adverse possession does have low success rate. It is important that you do all that you can in order to beat the odds, which is much easier said than done. Keep in mind that there are over one hundred cities that did modify abandoned property laws and this makes it a lot easier for the investor to assume the ownership. There is a clear increase in the number of abandoned real estate properties and municipalities have to take action. They do this by making it a lot easier for you, the investor, to take ownership. If this is something that is possible for you, it is a great investment that has to be considered.