Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Couple Discovers They Don't Own The Backyard Of Their Recently-Purchased Home When They Receive Notice Of Upcoming Foreclosure Sale For Non-Payment Of Real Estate Taxes; Failure To Get Land Survey Before Buying Explains Why They Were Unaware That Premises Had Been Split Into Multiple-Lot Parcel

In Fircrest, Washington, KOMO News reports:
  • A Pierce County couple has learned their backyard in going on the public auction block [].

    Newlyweds Sarah and Jason Kriess purchased their Fircrest home last March, but recently learned the backyard they thought they owned isn’t their property.

    “The property line ends at the cement,” said Sarah Kriess. “So we only own about a foot out our back door.”

    On November 18, the couple received some unexpected mail – a filer that their backyard was for sale. “I was shocked and surprised,” said Jason Kriess.

    Turns out the house’s story took a turn back on the late 1980’s when the Washington State Department of Transportation condemned the land for road right of way, then years later sold it back to the then owner.

    But, that owner never completed a boundary line adjustment. The house eventually went into foreclosure and the property taxes weren’t paid.

    “It was a matter of public record and it could have been determined,” said Jane Koler who is a land use and property lawyer. But, it was missed by several realtors, banks and a title company – no one seemed to know the property had been split into more than one parcel.

    “We are hoping no one wants to buy our backyard and that we can buy it for the minimum amount on Monday - please don't buy our back yard,” said Sara Kriess. The couple hopes to pay around $3,000 for the land they thought they already owned. “We just want to build our fire pit and enjoy our backyard when it gets warm again,” said Sarah Kriess.

    There are currently no laws on the books preventing another person from buying the land at the public.
Source: Pierce County couple learns their backyard is for sale.

For the follow-up to this story, see Sold! This couple is the proud new owner of their backyard:
  • The auction bell has rung, and Sarah and Jason Kriess now own their Fircrest backyard. “We can build our fire pit and enjoy our backyard,” Sarah Kriess said Tuesday morning, “and throw a backyard warming when it’s not 40 degrees out.”

    Kriess was the sole bidder in an online auction at which the two parcels that make up the couple’s backyard were listed for sale by Pierce County’s facilities management department.

    The couple spent just over $2,500 to buy the land outside their back door that they had thought they already owned. “It’s an expensive lesson learned, but it could have been way worse,” Kriess said. “Now we can look back and laugh at it.”

    The Kriesses have tried to find humor in the convoluted story about how the backyard was not included in the March purchase of their Columbia Avenue home.

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