Squatters? Seriously??

[Wish I had a good picture of some squatters to post, but that might be gross....so maybe it's better that I don't, lol.]

Oh, and this is a pretty long post, but it's a great story, let me tell ya! :)

Okay, so Nathan, Eli and I went out to our new house on Saturday to take some measurements for carpet and various other things. We were in the kitchen with the front door open when we heard, "Excuse me?" and saw a lady on the front porch. So we went over and said hi, and she introduced herself as our neighbor across the street, and asked if we were moving in. We told her we were, but not for a few more weeks. She then told us this:

"Well, I don't want to be a bother or a nosy neighbor or anything, but I wanted to let you know that we have had about 9 houses targeted in this neighborhood by squatters. There is a family on this street that are the 'masterminds' behind it all -- they go through and find vacant houses that have been foreclosed on, then they break into the house, move in their furniture, and create a fake deed for the house. Then they change the locks, and when the new owners come to occupy the house, it's a huge legal battle trying to get them out. Usually it's been taking anywhere from 9 months to a year to get these people out."

Uh, seriously? I just about died. Who knew that we would even have to WORRY about things like this! And then she says this:

"And I just wanted you to know that we saw someone trying to break into your side door to the garage a few days ago. So we called the police and let them know what was going on, then we called the listing agent for this house to tell them as well. It looks like they had someone come out and change the locks on that side door."

AAAAACCKK! Our new house is under attack by squatters! I'm sure you can only imagine how grateful we were to this kind neighbor for telling us all about this. I can't imagine what we would have had to do to take these people to court if they did get into the house and started 'living' there. Gross!! And the worst part would be that we haven't officially closed on the house yet, so we would have no claim to the house, it would be a fight between the bank who owns the house and the squatters, and we would be stuck in the middle, waiting to see what happens. I'm just PRAYING that this doesn't happen to our house and that everything will be okay with our closing. I have half a mind to drive up there every day and just hang out at the house to protect it, LOL.

She went on to tell us that she was really good friends with the family that used to live in our house and she was really glad to see a new family taking up residence. She was like, "despite what I just told you, we have a really great neighborhood with tons of kids and lots of friendly people." Ha. That made me laugh. Poor woman, trying to warn us and yet not scare us off at the same time, LOL. :) But I am sure she's right about the neighborhood, we've seen lots of kids out and about whenever we've gone out there, and there are a lot of Yes on Prop 8 signs scattered around the area, so that makes me feel better. :)

So here's the question -- have any of you ever had to deal with ANYTHING like this? Or know someone who has? What advice do you have? Because right now, we don't officially own the house, so it's not like we can move in some of our own stuff or anything. We did take the key to the house that was in the lockbox, because the neighbor told us that she saw a lady over there trying to break into the lockbox and get the keys. GOSH! This is crazy.

So yeah, any prayers or good thoughts that you can throw our way regarding this would be awesome. I just want to know that 'our' house is safe while we wait for our closing date! Wish us luck. :)


JAG said...

Oh Laur! What a pain. On the bright side, there wasn't someone sitting in your living room when you walked into your house! That would be terrifying. Sorry.... Positive thoughts. I'm sure it will all work out. Don't leave anything personal there... There isn't an alarm system, huh?

Kylie said...

What a racket! The things that devious minds come up with!!! Fake deeds, furniture and all. I hope that things go well. If I was you, I would see if you get wireless there, and CAMP OUT!!! Let those squatters know you're not to be messed with! I might also try calling your police station and see if there is anything that they can do for you/ or you can do for them. Hopefully they're trying to catch those crooks!

Laurel said...

Nope, there's no alarm system on the house right now (I'm seriously thinking of installing one once we move in now).

Good suggestion, Kylie! I should give the police a call and see what rights we may have. Maybe I can have them check on the house for me or something. I would love to camp out! Maybe we will, LOL. :)

Life in Boston... said...

That is so crazy. Hopefully, everything will go fine. If all else fails, I am sure you could convince my mom to hire a bodyguard to watch over your house.

Gossling Family Album said...

OH MY GOOD GOSH! Laurel, I am a realtor and I have never heard of such a thing. That is so scarey and crazy at the same time. You have got to keep updates. I can't believe those that twist our legal system. I will keep you in my prayers.

Amy Lemaniak said...

Oh my goodness!! I cannot imagine! Thank goodness your soon to be neighbor let you know what was going on! I'll keep you guys in my prayers that they leave your new house alone!

Mama Llama said...

That is seriously sad that people are resorting to this kind of behavior. I am amazed that it takes so long to get them out once they're in! I guess you can't do like Home Alone and rig up some manequins or something so it looks like someone lives there can you? LOL
Love you!

Caroline said...

OMG Laurel! This sounds so surrealistic! I'll keep you in my thoughts and though I have to smile when I think about you camping over there it IS a sad story! Hope everything goes well for you and your house!!

Anonymous said...

Haha! Holy Cow! What a riot. I thought you meant wondering homeless people, not crooks! You know what bothered me the most was the fact that it took 9-12 months to get them out. You'd think something like that would only take the bank saying, we didn't sell this house--story closed. I'd call the police and tell them, you know to get it on record.

Elise said...

That's terrible! Not to play devil's advocate, but...So my question is- if your neighbor knows who the "masterminds" of this is...Why haven't they turned them in? Or is she the mastermind behind it all? Just kidding...I'm sure she's not...it was nice of her to give y'all a heads up...but I'd be curious to know if someone knows who is behind it all, why hasn't more been done to stop it? I used to think I was a pretty trusting individual, but at times I'm really not...I would just start doing research. I mean, who knows- honestly she could be the cooky neighbor next door. She probably isn't...but I would want to start getting facts about cases of that nature. I would also do some research on other relators/realty companies in the area to see if they have had experiences like this lady is describing or have heard of it. The other thing I would ask is does she remember the specific court case she's describing- as in the parties involved, dates, etc? I would imagine Law enforcement had to get involved- and if it went to court, many cases are open for public record. I guess my take on it would be to research as much information that you can. There isn't a lot you can do since you don't "officially" own the house yet...but I would want to be as informed as possible and see what information I could get on scams like this. I would look at companies that actually give out deeds- and see what experience they have had with scams of that nature and how they deal with them. Sorry to take up a TON of space...and I haven't ever bought a house personally :) But I think if it were me...that's what I would do...I had my identity stolen about 3 years ago...it's was a HORRIBLE experience- but I wish I had been a little more informed BEFORE it happend...it wasn't until after that I really understood how things like that happen and started really researching....Anyways- I'll keep y'all in my prayers!! Good luck!