What If Someone Else Built A Home On Your Lot?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Sellstate Advantage Realty

 Imagine waking up one day and finding that your dream of building your retirement home a lot you purchased years ago was gone! Someone had already built their home on your lot and they were living in it! In fact the original builder had already sold it to someone else! I know what you are thinking, that this is not possible, right? Well I am starting to think that anything is possible in beautiful Cape Coral! Here is the story as it appeared in our local paper!



  The News-Press

House dreams turn to nightmare in Cape Coral

By Brian Liberatore • bliberatore@news-press.com • June 13, 2008

Bill Prekker has been planning to build his retirement home on land he owns in Cape Coral for the better part of three decades.


Then, he discovered someone else had already built a home on his property, and the 1,900-square-foot residence has been there for 11 years.

"Thirty-five years of a dream got shot down," said Prekker, speaking from his home in Annapolis, Md. "I would have been retiring soon."

Now, he wants to know why a house is on his dream land and how the mistake could have carried on so long?

After returning from the Vietnam War in late 1960s, Prekker bought the quarter-acre lot at 146 S.E. 18th St. for $4,300 from the Gulf American Corp.

He's seen it a couple of times since then, he said. The last time was in the early 1990's.

It was a few years after Prekker's last visit that a builder made a mistake.

Lee County property records indicate Baywood Construction owned the vacant lot at 150 Southeast 18th Street, just east of Prekker's parcel. In 1997, a mason apparently misread the blueprints and poured the home's foundation on the wrong side of a surveyor's line. The city had issued the building permit and apparently did not notice the house was in the wrong location.

City officials said Thursday they were looking into the issue but did not have a comment.

Shortly after the home was built, Richard Barton bought the house from Baywood for $73,900. Eight years later, in 2005, Barton sold the house to Frank Beal, Jr. for $230,000. Still, no one realized it was in the wrong place.

Beal said he never had the property surveyed, and the mistake slipped by.

Prekker, meanwhile, was in Maryland, oblivious to the dealings on his property. His tax bills listed his property at 146 S.E. 18th St. as vacant even though the house was there. Since 1999, Prekker has spent about $5,900 in local taxes for the lot.

Meanwhile, Beal has been paying taxes on his property 150 S.E. 18th St. and the house that was supposed to be there. The tax bills show the house where it was supposed to sit.

The office of the Lee County Property Appraiser never caught the error. Assessor Ken Wilkinson said he would send a field manager to investigate following a call Thursday from The News-Press.

The mistake may have gone unnoticed, but Beal hired a friend to install a pool last year. It was the pool contractor who noticed the house was 80 feet west of where it should have been. The contractor said he couldn't build a pool on someone else's land.

That's when lawyers got involved.

Beal contacted local real estate attorney Robert Burandt, who uncovered the property's history. Burandt has tried through certified mail to contact Prekker, but received no answer, according to Beal. Last month, Burandt contacted law enforcement officials in Maryland to check that Prekker lived at the Maryland address he had listed with Cape Coral.

Prekker said he remembers the police officers coming to his house. That was when he knew something was amiss with his Cape land. Prekker said following the police visit he contacted Burandt.

"Shocked and angry," Prekker said of the discovery. "I was shocked and angry."

Prekker said he has since hired an attorney and says he may seek money from Baywood Construction for the error.

Now, Beal finds he can't do any work on the house, can't install a pool and can't refinance it because of where it is. He gave Barton a $230,000 check for the home.

"We are just trying to get our money back from Rich Barton," Beal said. "It is his responsibility."

Barton could not be reached Thursday for comment.

The other solution, one that officials from Baywood Construction say they would prefer, is a transfer of deeds. Beal could take Prekker's lot and Prekker could take Beal's lot. The adjacent landlocked lots are the same size, shape and value. The only difference between the two is the house.

"We will cooperate in the transferring of deeds if the owners agree to it," said Mike Devito, owner of Baywood Construction.

Prekker, however, isn't sure he wants a transfer.

"That's not the property I was dreaming of," Prekker said.


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John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana

Wow somebody really messed up.  I am sure glad it wasn't me.

Jun 17, 2008 12:34 PM #1
Erin Newington
(916) 585-3858 - Elk Grove, CA
Elk Grove Realtor

That is crazy!  I am shocked that it could happen with so many pairs of eyes on the project.

Jun 17, 2008 12:40 PM #2
Nancy Larson
I am a licensed referral agent in NJ - Hutchinson Island, FL

Unbelievable....ditto on sure glad it wasn't me.

Jun 17, 2008 12:43 PM #3
Andrew Baumbach
Homestead Realty Inc. - Milwaukee, WI
Greater Milwaukee Real Estate

Wow that is really something, that's really hard to believe that slipped past so many people.

I hope these two just swap lots, it's just the right thing for everyone.

Jun 17, 2008 12:45 PM #4
Tim Haight
Pinal Realty & Property Management LLC - Arizona City, AZ

If there is a substantial or even something more than a minor difference between the two lots then I would agree with the original owner. If the lots are the same and the views are the same it looks like the original owner is looking to capitalize. S*** happens. Without knowing the lots and what they look like it is hard to fault the original owner but if they are the same size and same views then maybe he should try to work it out without causing someone to go bankrupt. That would be a perfect world.

Jun 17, 2008 12:49 PM #5
Debi Ernst
St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors - O'Fallon, MO
GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate

Wow!  What a horrible mistake!  I can't believe it wasn't noticed for so long.  Thanks for sharing!  :)

Jun 17, 2008 12:54 PM #6
Kara Casamassina
International Property Management Group, LLC - Aiken, SC
Boomers and beyond

OMG!!  wow.    Hooray for the swimming pool guy for being the only one after so many years who was 'on the ball'!!  They should make the builder pick up and move the house over to where it is supposed to be.  That will fix everything :)

Jun 17, 2008 12:57 PM #7
Greg Hampton
Re/Max Around The Mountains - Blue Ridge, GA
North Georgia Mountain Property,Blue Rid

People ,from time to time make mistakes. It is how the correction is made that steers the outcome.

Jun 17, 2008 12:57 PM #8
Jeff Thornton
Jeff Thornton ABR CRB CRS CSP e-Pro GRI - Lansing, MI

That is a huge mistake that took how manycontinued mistakes form what seems like a several incompetent people. 

Jun 17, 2008 01:06 PM #9
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Did nobody look at the assessor's parcel map that was included in the title reports each buyer got?  The agents for sellers and buyers at each stage, as well as the buyers themselves should be able to get a clue looking at the indicated lot on the map. 

Was it the 3rd house from the corner or something?  If so, someone could easily spot that the map showed it as the 4th house (or something like that). Wherever it was I'm amazed that no one bothered to review the papers that the title company must have given them. 

That's a lesson to check those things every time.  You want to be absolutely certain that your buyer is buying the right property!

Jun 17, 2008 01:10 PM #10
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

I'm sure this is going to get ugly and Prekker and Beal are going to make out like bandits.  Hope Beal has title insurance!

Jun 17, 2008 02:10 PM #11
Greg Knowles Santa Barbara Ca.
Fidelity National Title Group-Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara, CA

Who would have thought the pool contractor to be the real estate expert. UBELIEVABLE!

Jun 18, 2008 05:53 AM #12
Cynthia Calisch and Preston Larus
Keller Williams Realty - Sarasota, FL

OUCH! What a furball that turned into.

Sorting it out won't be easy or cheap, especially if the lawyers let it get adversarial. Let's hope they don't.

Jun 18, 2008 07:57 AM #13
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Wow, what a MESS.  It sounds like someone's head is going to roll on that one.  I wonder if they really are identical lots or if there is something special about the one that was built on?  You need to keep us attuned for the rest of the story.

Jun 18, 2008 10:21 AM #14
Roseann Annis
Prudential Homesale Services Group - Camp Hill, PA

Fascinating article, Marchel!  How ironic that it was the pool contractor to discover the unfortunate mixup!  The idea of moving the house to the right lot may be expensive, but seems like the right thing to do.

Please keep your loyal readers apprised of updates in this incredible saga.

Jun 18, 2008 02:57 PM #15
Tchaka Owen
Galleria International Realty - Hollywood, FL

Tomorrow morning I'm ordering a pool!  That way I'll find out if I'm in the clear or not....

Jun 18, 2008 04:06 PM #16
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