Home owner's garage auctioned off without him knowing
WESTLAND, Mich. (WJBK) - It's one of the strangest foreclosure cases you will ever see. A homeowner in Westland, Mich. discovers his attached garage is not considered his property. In fact, the garage was just sold to someone else at an auction.
A three bedroom, two bath, house with an attached garage - Aaron Dehetre looked at this place and said, sold.
"I loved it, I was like 21 years old, it was the first house I bought," he says.
But seven years after he closed on the house Aaron got a strange phone call from his neighbor.
"My neighbor called me and said there was a foreclosure notice on my door," Dehetre says. "I had a foreclosure notice on the garage door. I started calling my bank, the city, the county."
Aaron never missed a mortgage payment; taxes were included. But what he didn't know? He didn't buy the attached garage seven years earlier because someone else owned it - as well as half the breezeway.
"I would have to go to the county if I lose the garage," he says. "Somehow get a building permit to rip a hole between the two buildings to separate [the garage and the house]."
Aaron's garage sold this week at the county auction for $1,500. Dehetre learned his property line runs through his front lawn between the window and the door of the breezeway and that property line runs right through the back yard.
So what happened? Well, two things.
The house was built in 1942 and neighbors remember a dying family member and survivors chose to split the garage off.
But another key when he bought the house, he did not order a staked survey with engineers to stake out and survey the property lines.
All Wayne County knew was they had a Westland garage owner not paying taxes.
"I have an attached garage right here," says David Szymanski, Wayne County treasurer. "But my attached garage sits on one parcel of land. Sometimes an attached garage will sit on two parcels of land and that is where you get down to the statement buyer beware. Do your due diligence. Trust but verify.
"When you purchase something, know what you are purchasing. In this situation he didn't get a staked survey done to tell him exactly what he is getting."
The Wayne County Treasurer's office says they will review this property and the garage sale. Aaron called the title company he used when he bought the house.
"They said they are only responsible for the lot number they were given," Dehetre says. "The one under the house. And I didn't request a staked survey but at 21 I didn't know to ask for a staked survey."