Florida man pays $9,100 for $50 patch of grass after mistakenly thinking he was buying a villa
Kerville Holness was left ruing his fortunes after a fortuitous auction saw him left with a very, very expensive piece of lawn
A Florida man who thought he had lucked out after winning the bid for what he thought was a $177,000 villa for just $9,100 got a rude reality check after it emerged that he had, in fact, bought something of far lesser value.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the near five-figure bid put in by Kerville Holness of Tamarac saw him win a one-foot-wide, 100-foot-long strip of land that has a value of just $50.
The strip of land starts at the curb where two mailboxes have been installed, goes under the wall separating the garages of one of the two adjoining villas which Holness thought he was bidding for, and then emerges once again at the back of the lot.
Holness bought the 'property' after outbidding one Antoine Rutherford of Miramar by $100 during a Broward online auction of properties that had defaulted on their taxes. He now claims it was a "deception."
"There was no demarcation to show you it’s just a line going through [the villa duplex], even though they have the tools to show that," he said, arguing that the property appraiser pictures linked to the auction site showed that he was bidding on the villa.
However, contrary to his claim, the appraiser's site and information on the county's tax site did show that the property had negligible value, that there was no building value, and that the land took up just 100 sq feet and was just one-foot wide.
But Holness insisted that the property should never have been put up for sale in the first place, and brought up county memos that he had obtained which showed that the Records, Taxes, and Treasury Division had raised that same question because of its location under two homestead properties.
Officials said he's stuck with the deal and that state law does not allow the refund he's so desperately seeking.
Tax division director Tom Kennedy said if the property is on the tax rolls, it must be auctioned, with Richard Sherman, deputy general counsel for the appraiser’s office similarly stating that state law requires the appraiser’s office to put a value on every property, no matter how small.
Their advice? An announcement asking that any future bidder on such auctions complete their homework and check for all possible problems a property might have before parting with their money.
Following Holness' mishap, a warning on top of the auction site warns investors to "do your research" and warns that "Tax Deed sales are not for the uninformed."
Holness said he doesn't know what he's supposed to do with his newfound property. "If I’m vindictive enough, I can cut right through the garage wall and the home to get to my air space, but what use would that be to me?" he said.