Picture it: You think you've just scored your dream home at a great deal, only to find that instead of the "villa" you thought you bid on, you've spent your hard-earned money on...a 12-inch strip of land. This was exactly the fate that befell one Florida man, who became the case example of the perils of not reading the fine print.
As the Sun Sentinel reported over the weekend, Kerville Holness thought he'd found a hidden gem in an online auction of properties with defaulted taxes put up by the town.
Parcel 494105-15-1371 was one of ten properties up for sale in the auction; bidding started at $2,106.06 and Kerville, the winner, placed the final bid at $9,100. Which he thought was a killer deal for 8107 NW 100th Way, a villa last sold for $228,000, according to its listing on real estate site Redfin.
But alas, Kerville's winnings were—quite smaller: a 12-inch strip of land between number 8107 and its neighbor. "It starts at the curb where two mailboxes have been installed, goes under the wall separating the garages of two adjoining Spring Lake villas, then extends out to the back of the lot," the Sun Sentinel helpfully explains.
So what's a guy to do with a foot-wide strip of land which is mostly covered by a wall? Well, Kerville has some ideas, he tells the paper. "If I’m vindictive enough, I can cut right through the garage wall and the home to get to my air space," he said, before admitting, " but what use would that be to me?"
The Sun Sentinel positions Kerville's story as a warning that online tax deed auctions are "a risky venture." Indeed, it appears the disappointed buyer wasn't the only one fooled: Kerville was one of four bidders on the property, which, in their defense, was depicted on the website with its adjacent homes—though, to be fair, it's not really clear how one would depict a strip of land under two garages without those garages in the photo.
In an attempt to, depending how you look at it, either warn buyers or cover its own hide, the Boward County auction site has now added a banner at the top of its site urging all investors to "do your research!" Buyer beware, indeed.
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