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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Default Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    recently purchased a townhome w/ one car garage built in and one detached garage. purchased it off the mls using a real estate agent I knew. this townhome is part of an HOA (there are about 300 units total in the HOA) . the external garage is part of a separate structure that contains 17 single car garage units (each external garage has it's own tax ID and parcel #). the mls listing said this townhome came with 2 garages (one attached and one detached). this was said both in the COMMENTS section of the listing and the DETAILS section of the listing. anyway, 7 weeks after I moved in I received a note on my external garage that said "hi, we are the owners of these storage units." please call us immediately. I called my real estate agent and said, please look into this. this can't be right. I own the garage. the real estate agent, his broker, and the title company looked into this and found out the storage rental company does indeed own the external garage structure (they own all 17 garages). they had just purchased it from the original developer (who had also built all the townhomes). the developer built the townhomes (about 13 years ago) and sold them all (as expected), but RETAINED THE DEEDS to the external garage units. so the mls listing was wrong. the owners I had purchased the townhome from had told the listing agent they owned an external garage. and it looks like the listing agent did not verify this. so I just lost an external garage (worth about 20K) I thought I owned to a storage rental company.

    that is the more simple part of the story. here is where the story takes in INTERESTING TWIST. the listing agent called the townhome sellers about this major error in the mls listing and asked them to explain. they said, we have used that garage for free the whole time we lived there. it even come with a remote that was inside the townhome when we first moved in. we purchased the townhome from the ORIGINAL owner (who is also a friend) and he told us he owned the garage. in fact the ORIGINAL owner said he had the original DEVELOPERS PURCHASE CONTRACT where the contract stated, he would OWN one detached garage when you purchased this townhome. and he even said the developer tried to kick him out of the external garage unit twice while he lived there but he managed to stay in (my guess is he showed them the original purchase contract that showed he owned a DETACHED garage and then they left him alone). but then I got asking around to some of my neighbors , they said the developer has actually been RENTING OUT most of the external garage units for years. there aren't many (if any) original townhome owners here. the turnover is pretty high and many of them are rentals. me and my real estate agent have not been able to get a hold of this original purchase contract (from the first time owner). but it appears the developer sold the external garage twice (once to the original owner of my townhome and once to the storage rental company). but they never signed over the deed of the external garage to the original owner of the townhome. when they sold it the second time (about a month ago) to the storage rental company then that is when they signed over all the external garage deeds to the new owner. so this townhome has been lived in for 13 years by 3 different people (all of whom were using this external garage) and never once did the developer try to charge rent? but apparently they did try to kick out the first owner twice. does that seem ILLEGAL or just UNETHICAL. I talked with the HOA manager about this and she said the developer had left her with a CONTACT NAME the tenants could call if they had questions of who owned the external storage rental units. so I called the developer's rep (contact) and said......"don't I own this external garage?" and I explained the situation. and he said....well, do the title documents and closing documents of your purchase of the townhome show you own the external garage? did you get the deed? and those documents mention nothing about the external garage. and there was no deed to the external garage (he already knew this). but I did ask him "hey, if I don't own it, why did you never charge me or the other 2 tenants that lived here rent in 13 years for this garage when you charge rent for many of the other garages? he said "I don't know". I think the answer is, they knew they had sold the external garage to the first tenant of the townhome. they may have just been waiting for enough turnover to occur to more easily sell the external garage structure without as much blowback from tenants.

    so my question is, where should this go? who is guilty of what? (considering everything I say is true and can be proven in a court of law) developer? selling broker? listing broker? seller of townhome. and am I entitled to compensation from someone? that is the big question. I feel like a fool. I think I lost 20K in when I lost the external garage.

    I will be meeting with a lawyer next week just for an initial consultation. the real estate agents admit they scrued up but really think the developer should have to re-imburse me for the loss of the external garage (they are hoping the get this original purchase contract so they can show it to the developer and say "hey, we know you SOLD THIS GARAGE TWICE". of course that would let the real estate agents off the hook. I do think there is a good chance the developer sold many of those external garages to the first time townhome owners (at least according to the purchase contract) but then never signed over the need to the external garage (as they should have). to sell something twice (like an external garage) should be FRAUD or something very serious. but a lot of these developers are smart enough they probably try not to cross that line that could land them in court, fined, and in jail.

    also, there is no way I can keep that external garage is there? I am still in there. I talked to the owner of the storage rental company and he was very gracious saying I could stay in there free till the end of the month.....and even keep renting it from him if I wanted. but he did say "it is mine now, I own the deed so you either need to start paying rent or get out." I figure the only way I would keep the garage is of the original transaction between the developer and the storage rental company was considered fraudulent and had to be NULLIFIED. in other words, the developer didn't have a right to sell the external garages because they had already sold many (if not all) of them to the first time purchasers of the townhome (most of whom probably don't live in the townhomes anymore). I guess i am asking "IS IT THAT BIG OF DEAL THAT THE TOWNHOME OWNERS HAVE OCCUPIED THE EXTERNAL GARAGE FREE OF CHARGE for 13 years". it may mean nothing in this instance. but I know in some instances possession is huge (especially for that long of period).

    all comments are much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    I don't know if I missed this or not and I don't want to go back over all that information.

    Did your purchase contract say you were buying a town house and a detached garage? If it did and the seller failed to convey title to the detached garage then your cause of action is against him.

    If your purchase contract did not say your deal included a detached garage and you relied on the ad, the MLS or something you were told by realtors, then you've just learned an expensive lesson from the school of hard knocks.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    great question. I should of included that info. I have looked at the real estate contract. it just lists the address of the townhome. that is the property that is for purchase. the MLS listing is included at the end of the real estate contract document. it does say 2 carage garage in the MLS listing. a copy of the mls listing is appended to the end of the real estate contract. it does say the contract that the seller must disclose facts about the property that could effect the value if it is something a PRUDENT buyer would not find.

    there is always (I believe) a section in the real estate contract (and I think this is the case in any state) that says it is the buyers responsibility to verify all information provided by the seller (disclaimer). if that is the case, it would be irrevalent what the MLS listing says a legal sense? or whether is was accurate or not? as long as the buyer had the ability to discover that on his/her own? I certainly could have discovered this on my own. I was not aware there would be a separate tax ID and parcel# for the external garage unit.

    so you may be right, I should of caught this error. I guess my question is, does the ACCURACY of the mls listing mean anything? I mean it might not if the buyer is suppose to verify the accuracy anyway.

    I appreciate all comments. if you are not a legal expert in real estate, please say so in your comments. I value anyone's opinion. but If you don't deal with this stuff on a daily basis I would like to know as I may not value your opinion as much as someone that does deal with it on a daily basis.

    and it appears occupying this external garage for 13 years for free is irrevalent? I think the easment law in my state is 20 years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    If you read the info from the MLS you should find the disclaimer that states the info is not deemed accurate or legally dependable.

    Your contract and subsequent deed determines what you own or have a claim to

    Did the agent “show” you the detached garage?

    While it is apparent you would have no claim for title to the garage since the seller didn’t own it, it isn’t certain you don’t have some action against the seller. I’m not saying you necessarily do either. I’m saying you need to investigate this further. I would suggest hiring an attorney, at least for an initial review, to review the documents involved and give you their opinion.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    we viewed the home with the inspector (my inspector) a second time and actually got inside the garage. the inspector had found out where the remote to the external garage was before me and my agent arrived. the inspector told us the external garage had no issues or defects. he did inspect it because the MLS listing said it was included (and the pictures of the listing included one separate picture of this external garage). the listing agent was never at the home when me and my agent were. also, the townhome was empty (the property). since the remote was inside the townhome, one would have a strong reason to believe the owners of the townhome owned that garage. the shelving inside the external garage (matched the shelving inside my attached garage). I mean rental units don't have remotes. these external garages where never meant to be rental units. they don't have a lock on them. they have flowers and bushes right up against them that is maintained by the HOA. they have the same paint color scheme as the townhomes. you would never in a million years think they could be rentals. you might ask which tenants own them or have access to them, but that is about it.

    I have used the external garage since I moved in. so everything was just as I expected until a week ago when I got a note on the external garage from the storage rental company saying "we own this garage, please call us within 48 hours."

    also, my general contractor friend said it might be best just to force a nullification of the real estate contract so the seller who sold it to me must purchase it back. I would rather not do that unless it was a last resort (unless I was compensated will to have to move). moving is such a hassle.

    everyone has been mum on who is responsible (I have only talked with my agent). no one else has called me. everyone involved is hoping they can get this supposed purchase contract between the original owner and the developer that says the owner of this townhome will own external garage #12. that may be FRAUD on the part of the developer (if it happened) (selling the external garage twice) and my agent thinks the developer himself probably didn't know or do it (but someone below him did). the developer is one of the bigger developers in my state (probably employ a couple hundred people at least). so my agent thinks if he can get this original contract and show it to the owners of the development company, then they will MAKE IT RIGHT in any way they can (basically leaving everyone else involved with my purchase with nothing to worry about). but, they have yet to get that original contract. so I question if it exists. my agent just says the listing agent says it exists. but the listing agent may just be using this as a delaying tactic so I won't try to take any legal action against anyone.

    I did talk to a general contractor (who also got his real estate broker's license but never really used it). and he did say the disclaimer in the real estate contract does not place all the blame on me. my agent and broker must act in my best interests and if they are grossly negligent, then they are most likely responsibly. and he said this was a HUGE MISTAKE for my agent and broker not to catch this. and it was a huge mistake for the listing agent and broker to list this item on the MLS without making sure the detached garage was included with the townhome. my agent actually said he just thought the external garage was part of the HOA and didn't have a separate parcel # and tax ID. he said, he had actually sold a townhome once before across town where that was the case. but he should of double checked. and I should of double checked. but I thought when you buy on the MLS and get all these professionals involved and pay them a lot of money to get involved in the buying and selling of real estate, then they do have some responsibity to be somewhat competent in what they do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    Your general contractor friend, well, his statement suggests he doesn’t understand what rights you have. If you wish to rescind the contract and the other party isn’t willing, you would have to sue them. You can not unilaterally rescind a contract. Since you have shown nothing to base a rescission on, i don’t see it happening.

    Your agent told you they believed the garage to belong to the COA? Do you realize that property the coa owns is not something you can purchase from some other party? If the coa owned the garage, you couldn’t buy it unless you had a contract with the coa to purchase it.

    a remote control is not a basis to determine the garage is part of the package. Especially if the coa owned it, it would not be unreasonable the coa either rented or by coa rules alllows the use of the garage.

    As to some benefit of the original owner did receive title to the garage from the developer.: it wouldnt change your situation at all. Unless all subsequent deeds also included the transfer of the garage to subsequent buyers of the unit, it would be as simple as the first owner would still own the garage. It wouldn’t result in you owning the garage or having a claim to it.

    MLS listings allow for some decent identification of the subject property. In the specifics of the listing, there is a section for addressing a garage or outbuildings. If you have that available, check out the section where it says garage. Also look for any mention of an outbuilding or separate garage.

    I will say that when I sold real estate, I have seen listings that might have pictured a garage or some other amenity but within the verbiage of the listing, it would state things like:

    outbuilding not included but available for purchase


    garage not included but available for rent from the hoa

    If the detached garage is included in the property description, it brings in possibilities for action.

    Now, there is one more possibility I can think of, especially given the fact the seller had unfettered use of the garage. They might have believed they did own the garage and it was included with the sale. That could bring in all sorts of possibilities in resolving the issue.

    another question: regarding the title report from the title company and the appraisal from the lender;

    did either of them include the garage in their actions?

    What i suggest you do is stop asking your contractor friend or the real estate agents for answers and call a lawyer. You have an issue that demands reall unbiased, answers based on the law and actual facts. A lawyer is likely the only place you will get such answers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    Quote Quoting bray1970
    View Post

    I appreciate all comments. if you are not a legal expert in real estate, please say so in your comments. I value anyone's opinion. but If you don't deal with this stuff on a daily basis I would like to know as I may not value your opinion as much as someone that does deal with it on a daily basis.
    No, I'm not a real estate lawyer and I'm not a realtor. However, my knowledge is rather extensive but I won't bore you with those details. JK touched on a number of items that I would have also touched on.

    So I will just leave you with this:

    NOBODY is going to admit culpability and give you $20,000 just for the asking. Don't believe anything that anybody is telling you.

    Hire yourself a lawyer who can thoroughly review your situation and determine who gets to get sued.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    the title and appraisal and closing documents made no mention of the external garage.

    here is an every more INTERESTING TWIST (found out today).

    I was reviewing the CC&R for the HOA and it says right in the CC&R that only tenants of the HOA can own the external garages. right now the storage rental company (an LLC) owns the external garages. plus, the zoning for the block the HOA is on is multifamily residential. I am not sure storage units are allowed by the city on that type of lot (I am still looking into it).

    so this LLC owns the external garages and shouldn't. the developer owned the external garages and shouldn't have.

    what should happen? can the HOA force a sale of the external garage units to tenants of the HOA. but, again the LLC owns the deeds. so the garages are his.....period.
    I did talk to the LLC owner (also a real estate agent) and that is what he told me. but that was before I read the CC&R documents. the LLC owner is actually a real estate agent also (he spend some time telling me how my agent is the problem (not him) and he is right for the most part (I think).

    here is another interesting question, if the LLC was forced to sell the garages at a loss, would title insurance cover his loss? would the developer be liable for the LLC l losses as I bet the developer did not tell him the HOA will not allow anyone but tenants to own or rent the garages. this might all be to complicated for me. but I love getting comments about it from other until I go see the lawyer. ALSO, I could bring this to the attention of the HOA manager. but I do know she already knows the external garages where always owned by the developer (unit just recently when they were sold to the LLC). and she did know when the garages where sold to the LLC (maybe the developer was keeping her informed) so maybe she is in on this. it is so blatant. and it is very clear in the CC&R that only tenants may own these external garages. she's probably a shrill for the developer. sometimes the developer and HOA management know each other very well.

    it has been an interesting day. thanks for the comments and any additional comments are much appreciated.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    I don’t see where the llc must sell the units at a loss. If any sale would be ripe for rescission, that would be the one. The developer could not legitimately sell the garages to the llc, unless of course the llc is also a tenant within the hoa territory. Are they? If so they could own the garages per the rule you posted. It would not be disallowed the developer own the garages since the developer owns all of the property until it becomes part of hoa common property or becomes a property to be sold to end buyers and is sold. Until that point, it can remain owned by the developer.

    It’s odd it would specify only a tenant can own the garages as that would preclude the owner of a unit they rent out from also owning a garage unit. If a person purchased both a residential unit and a garage unit, under that rule they would be forced to divest themselves of the garage unit if they moved and rented out the residential unit.

    The inverse of that is odd also since it would allow a renter to own a garage unit.

    The rule should be limiting to an owner member.

    i think you are onto something here with the zoning limitations if it precludes a storage unit. It makes it a useless investment other than if the llc wanted to use them for their own storage (if they can even own them) They can’t be rented to members or outsiders as I see it. Even better is the rule that they can only be owned by a tenant of the Hoa. That actually makes it pretty clear the intent they were to be owned by people living within the hoa territory.

    If the zoning does preclude a storage unit, I would also keep my eyes open to the llc seeking a special exemption to allow a storage unit in this situation. Be sure you attend the zoning board meetings to fight against such an allowance.

    Also be alert to any amendment of the rules of the hoa that would allow a non tenant to own the garage units.

    I think you also also have a lot of research to do but it appears you are headed the right direction.

    But, none of that changes your personal situation. While you might set things up so tenants can purchase the garages, it doesn’t change your situation where a garage unit wasn’t part of your sale. You still need to deal with that. Even if you are successful in causing the garage units to be owned by tenants within the hoa, it still won’t mean you should have had a garage unit included in your sale. Since the garage unit wasn’t owned by the seller of your residential unit, they couldn’t sell you a garage unit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    Default Re: Thought I Purchase a Townhome with a Detatched Garage

    here is info from the CC&R (garage lot and garage unit refer to the EXTERNAL GARAGES)
    by the way, the plat map does show the external garage and their parcel #.

    Garage Lot shall mean and refer to a Lot to be used for the sole purpose of
    constructing a structure which is to be used for the primary purpose of parking a motor vehicle or
    vehicles therein. Each Garage Lot shall be assigned a separate “parcel” or “tax identification”
    number by the appropriate governmental agency.

    23. Garage Unit shall mean and refer to a structure constructed on a Garage Lot to be
    used for the primary purpose of parking a motor vehicle or vehicles therein.

    2. Description and Legal Status of the Property. The Plat Map shows the type and
    location of each Lot and its Lot Number, each Garage Lot, those Limited Common Areas which are
    reserved for the exclusive use of a Lot or Lot Owners, and the Common Areas and Facilities in the
    vicinity. The Common Area shall be deeded to and owned by the Association. All Lots and Garage
    Lots shall be capable of being independently owned, encumbered, and conveyed, and shall have
    separate tax identification or parcel numbers. The ownership of a Garage Lot is subject to the
    following limitation: A GARAGE LOT MAY ONLY BE OWNED BY OR CONVEYED,


    so it is clear the HOA members must use these garages. but it is very possible the LLC is complying with that
    and only renting them out to HOA members. most of them probably don't have vehicles in them though.
    you would have to rent them out to people that live right across from these external garages in order for them
    to mostly be used to store vehicles. all the other HOA members live to far away (100 plus yards). most of them
    don't want to park their vehicle in a garage that far away from their residence.

    so it is clear the external garages where to be used by HOA members that lived near the garages of the HOA
    that want extra space primarily for an extra vehicle (and many would as all these townhomes only have one
    car garage).

    and here is another definition (OWNER) that seems to be ciritical

    34. Owner shall mean and refer to the person who is the owner of record (in the office of
    the County Recorder of County, state) of a fee or an undivided fee interest in a Lot,
    excluding a mortgagee or a beneficiary or trustee under a deed of trust unless and until such party
    has acquired title pursuant to foreclosure or any arrangement or proceeding in lieu thereof.

    does that mean a person (not an LLC or corporation) must own the external garage lots?

    I have been feeding all this info to my agent. but If a lawyer tells me they have some responsibility
    for the loss I currently have, I will give them an ultimatum. "either get me the deed back (if you think
    you can) or pay me some compensation (if you are partly or fully responsible for my loss)". I feed them
    all this info and tell them "you gotta run this stuff by a lawyer to at least get an idea of what legal options are
    out there and they just won't do it." they tell me the state real estate association has a legal hotline they can
    call and that is who they are calling. but no one has gotten back with them. I guess maybe they have decided
    either 1) their don't bear much (if any) responsiblity in my loss.........or 2) they just don't think I will take legal action (I actually
    have known the real estate agent a long time (family friend who is very honest) so they do nothing. my agent is working
    very hard but can only do so much. the listing agent went on a 3 day vacation (she was suppose to be tracking down this ORIGINAL PURCHASE
    CONTRACT from the original owner of my townhome). so she clearly isn't to worried about it all this. my agent has
    already admitted fault on his part. and he told me everyone made mistakes in this (buyer, buyer agent, buyer broker, seller,
    listing agent, listing broker). but he would not admit anyone was financially liable (I did not try to coax that type
    of confession out of him).

    I guess the million dollar question is, "according to the CC&R, what is the DEFINITION OF A PERSON. is it a LITERAL PERSON or is it a person, or corporation.

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