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land_for_sale(MCT)—QUESTION: I bought a vacant lot a few years ago on the Internet, sight unseen. Turns out, the property is unusable because it’s on the edge of a development and on a deep slope. I found out that it is part of an association, and the dues now have exceeded the value of the property. I want out of the deal but am afraid of the ramifications. What can I do?

ANSWER: Never buy anything sight unseen. You must always do your due diligence. As the owner of the property, you are responsible for all the obligations, such as association dues and property taxes. You can’t simply give the lot back unless the seller agrees to take it. But if the seller lied to you about the property, you may have some recourse in court.

I do not recommend stiffing the association on the dues because you could become personally liable and end up with a judgment against you. In that case, the association could garnish your wages. You should also make sure that the property is being maintained until you are able to unload it, because you don’t want to be hit with code enforcement fines that could make getting rid of it more complicated.

If you can’t find another buyer, strongly consider giving the land to a local charity. Contact real estate agents and charities in your area to see if they may be able to help you resolve this situation.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

©2013 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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