Woman Faces Battle Over Property She Believes She Purchased
WESLACO – A Rio Grande Valley woman is fighting to purchase a property she thought she owned for years. She is caught in the middle.
Perla Garcia thought she bought her dream home eight years ago.
"All this was here. You see you come to this side. You see a for sale sign, what do you expect the whole property with the house,” said Garcia.
The previous owner told Garcia the whole lot was hers. Garcia is in the refinery business and works out of town.
She paid cash for the lot and worked with an attorney and title company to make the lot legal. She even made improvements to the home for her future.
"I thought this was my home the whole time. This is all my property,” said Garcia.
Garcia learned that wasn't exactly true. She said her mother called saying lawyers put a foreclosure sign on one side of the property.
"So, now they come in and put a sign there saying that I'm only owner of this side to that side and my house is right in the middle,” said Garcia.
Through the Hidalgo County Appraisal District, CHANNEL 5 NEWS got the in-view of the properties.
We discovered the previous owner didn't pay their property tax and was foreclosed on. Then the bank that did the foreclosing didn't pay the property taxes either.
The thousands in unpaid property taxes landed the bank in a courtroom. CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the law firm handling the case.
Attorney Hiram Gutierrez pointed out they did inform Garcia of the situation and to work something out with the bank.
Garcia explains nothing happened when she spoke with the bank, so she assumed everything was OK. Gutierrez points out the suit proceeded. He sent us a statement that read:
"The suit against Compass Bank as successor in interest to Texas State Bank is closed as judgment has been taken and we now proceed to tax sale.”
Gutierrez explained the lot will be auctioned off and she can move the home to "her" lot or outbid someone for the property.
"Because I don't know what's going to happen. I mean I live here, this is my home. I don't have nowhere else to go,” said Garcia.
Garcia said what concerns her is she will be bought out.
Gutierrez says this is an unfortunate situation and recommends a survey from a title company should be done before land is purchased.
He said Garcia still has time to try to reach the owner again before the auction in April.
Garcia tells us she plans to fight for the property.
Warnings for home or property buyers:
A real estate attorney Lauren Christy explained for many first time homebuyers she says not to get any documents prepared by a notary public. They do not have authority to prepare legal documents.
She suggests getting an attorney to review or prepare documents. They should also get title insurance and get an inspection of the land from the title company.
"Another step you can take is to order surveying connections with the property. Somebody will physically go out to mark the boundaries of the property that you’re buying to make sure that there are no encroachments. That there is no; like your neighbor's wall won’t come over your property line or something,” said Christy.
Christy said if a title company does not mention a survey or inspection it's good to ask them. Usually, a person must sign a waiver saying they rejected the inspection.