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New homeowner finds cash stashed in walls

When you buy a home and find a stuffed teddy bear in the attic, is it yours or the previous homeowners? What if instead of a teddy bear it’s a boat load of cash? What would you do?

It’s raining money!

As seen in the video above, a Massachusetts dentist hired a demolition crew for his office expansion, only to discover $2,500 in fifty and one hundred dollar bills stuffed between the plaster and the beams of the walls being torn down.

“I was looking out the window in between patients and the fellow was pulling the wall apart and the next thing I knew I saw a flutter of money,” the dentist told Boston’s 7News. “It was everywhere and it wasn’t just sitting there. It was in between the plaster and the boards so they had to hand pick it which took about an hour and a half.”

The dentist rewarded the workers with a few hundred dollars and immediately sought out to contact the former homeowners which were two older sisters that were completely surprised by the discovery. “We went through the house pretty good and we thought we found it all,” one sister said.

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They added that they were surprised by the dentist’s call saying, “People don’t do that anymore. It’s a rare quality.”

“There was no question in my mind that it wasn’t my money,” the dentist said.

Does found cash convey to a new homeowner?

Real estate investment expert and AGBeat columnist, Jeff Brown said, “Though my original assumption would be that the money belonged to the previous owner, there’s no way to know that. I’d have to figure a way to reliably ascertain if it indeed was theirs. In the end, if I couldn’t locate the money’s rightful owner, through a reasonable search, I’d keep it. But I would have to be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that I’d done my best in searching. I would pay no heed to what does/doesn’t convey. To me it’s a moral issue.”

Cutler Real Estate agent and AGBeat columnist, Kathleen Cosner says a significant sum of cash was recently found in the walls of a Cleveland home and it turned out the construction company had somehow accidentally put it there, so it is not always as cut and dry as it appears.

We asked Cosner how a homeowner should handle this situation and if they should fear a former criminal having hidden cash that could come back for it. She said, “In this instance, I would advise the homeowner call the police because even when it is an accident, like what happened with the Cleveland based construction company [mentioned above], the money wasn’t put in the walls on purpose. And if it was done with intention, then for sure go to the cops. Someone is looking for it, either way – it’s not like an antique wedding band or something.”

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What would YOU do?

What would you do if you found cash in the walls of a property you have purchased? How would you advise a client to behave if they found money in the walls or hidden elsewhere on the property? Tell us in the comments what you think the dentist should have done with the money and if he did the right thing regardless of conveyance laws.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. mikec (@blogboy2)

    December 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I can unequivocally say I would give the money to the rightful owners. 🙂

  2. Matt Thomson

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I'd call the police first thing. Calling the previous owners seems like it gives them an easy way to claim the cash whether it was theirs or not.
    Secondly, I'd wonder what I was doing inside the walls of my house, since I have no handy skills.
    Then I'd ponder what people were thinking when they put the money there. Especially the construction company. Bank, I get. Glove box of the car, not smart but reasonable. Old jacket pocket, understandable. But the walls of the house? "Hey JR, can you come give me a hand with this ladder?" "Yep, just let me put this $5000 here in the walls and I'll be there in a sec."
    I just don't get it.

  3. Realist

    December 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I would consider since the cash was "inside the wall" it is attached to the property and conveyed to the new owner. Possession is 9/10 of the law. But, that is just me!

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