Man Loses Thousands after Property Deed was Never Transferred

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PROGRESO – A man said the deed to a Rio Grande Valley lot he purchased was never transferred to his name.

Everardo Garcia is blind and an amputee. He worked as a migrant across the U.S. but had to retire due to complications related to diabetes.

Garcia said he’s spent all of the money he had on a plot of land since 2008. It was to build the home he and his wife always wanted.

“I would give him payments. Every time I came from up north, I would hand him my income tax, too,” he said. “The way I would get the money, I would give it to the man. We don't know how to read. It wasn’t until my daughter said, ‘No, my dad gives this man too much money.’"

Property attorney Armando Puente told CHANNEL 5 NEWS that’s due to the type of contract he signed. He said it’s known as a contract for deed.

“It binds the buyer and the seller, on the certain properties, and sets out all the terms usually on a single or two pages. But basically it says, ‘When you finish paying me, I will give you a deed. At your expense, of course,’” Puente said.

Puente explained these types of contract, written for a term of more than six months, is illegal.  He said page 22 of the Texas Property Code 2016 Edition states the style of contract was banned in 1995.

“At that point, there is nothing there to show that you had an interest in it, other than the piece of paper that you have in your hand,” he said. “Fraud can happen so easily, it’s frightening.”

The attorney explained people who find themselves entangled in this style of contact may sue if they never receive their deed. He admitted it can be an uphill battle due to the lack of paperwork.

Garcia said he wants to sue the person who sold the property. He said the only problem is he can’t afford an attorney.

Puente said if you plan on purchasing a property be sure to sign a deed of trust contract. He said the deed will be transferred into your name during the life of your contract.

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