“The bizarre situation speaks to a potential time bomb lurking behind an untold number of US residential mortgages. During the housing bubble that went bust in 2007 and 2008, mortgage companies routinely ignored longstanding property records laws. So defects—whether due to inaccurate deeds or fraudulent transfer documents—have sown chaos in county recording offices and foreclosure courts. These defects create ruptures in the “chain of title,” confusing who holds true ownership over properties.”


When You Find Out Your Neighbors Own Your House and They Try to Evict You

Danny Shedd’s nightmare began with some cows.

When Shedd, a 12-year veteran with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, finished up his military service at Fort Benning, Georgia, he and his wife Jacinda wanted to move to the prairie. The house they settled on in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, was perfect: a 5,400 square-foot, four-bedroom spot built in 2006, which mortgage giant Fannie Mae purchased in a foreclosure auction and was selling for one-third of its appraised value.

After inspections and appraisals, the Shedds closed on the house in June 2015, paying $172,425 cash—the product of years of saving. “They said congratulations on your new home,” Shedd told me.

The vet’s honorable Army discharge didn’t come through until that August, so Shedd settled his wife and kids in the new digs before returning to Fort Benning. But Jacinda soon began complaining about the neighbors’ cows lurking around the place at all hours. They would pass through a broken fence and eat the backyard grass, according to Shedd, with cow shit littering the space where his kids wanted to play. Shedd decided to rebuild the fence himself, enlisting a surveyor so he knew exactly where to place it.

The surveyor came back with bad news: According to the deed, the property Shedd paid for was actually ten wooded acres to the north, in a flood plain. The house his family was living in wasn’t even on the property they had the rights to.

Worst of all, the neighbors are now saying the house belongs to them, and are trying to get the Shedds evicted.

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