A $330,000 home for only $16
In an upscale neighborhood in Flower Mound, Texas near Dallas, a man is living inside a home after filing a $16 form at the Denton County courthouse.
Waterford Drive is a neighborhood of luxury homes in the $300,000 range which for Texas is a considerably higher price point than the median (here are the recent listings in Flower Mound for reference).
Homeowner walks away leaving it vulnerable
Neighbors say the house was in foreclosure for over a year when the owner finally walked away from the home. When the mortgage company went under, it left the vacant property vulnerable to what Kenneth Robinson refers to as the “adverse possession,” a law he cites as giving him rights to live in the home where he has been since June 17.
Robinson says he is not a squatter, rather his internet research led him to a form he could fill out and file at the County, a process he claims is completely legal and “not normal” but notes that just because it isn’t common knowledge doesn’t mean it isn’t legal.
No electricity, no water, a three year loophole
The form he filed with the County says the home was abandoned and he is claiming ownership of the house despite having no electricity or running water, but a few of Robinson’s pieces of furniture and “some things here for my own protection,” he said.
Robinson claims the presence of his belongings gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner, according to Texas law and if the owner wants him out, he would have to pay his mortgage in full and the bank would have to file a “complicated lawsuit,” neither of which Robinson believes is likely.
Texas law does state that if he stays in the house he can petition for ownership in three years, possibly obtaining the full title free and clear which is Robinson’s goal.
Why police cannot step in
Neighbors called police to arrest Robinson for breaking in, but he claims he “found” a key to the house and legally entered. Police said they cannot remove him from the house because ownership is a civil, not criminal matter.
Robinson has posted “no trespassing” signs saying “at this point, because I possess it, I am the owner.”
Intending to live mortgage free
Neighbors continue to seek out legal ways to remove Robinson or petition that he pays for the house like any other owner. They have sought counsel from the mortgage company that folded, local Realtors as well as attorneys as they believe he broke into the house, invalidating the loophole currently allowing him to live mortgage-free in the home.
Robinson says he will not buy anything or pay a dime, as the $330,000 house is already his because of his $16 courthouse document. It is unclear how he will be held responsible for taxes in this property tax state should he ultimately gain the title to the property, and with heightened awareness by local news, it is possible an attorney will find a loophole to the loophole, but property rights and squatting in Texas is a more complicated matter than in many states.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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