Even with the underwhelming state of the real estate market in recent times, you could have trouble borrowing up the $10 to purchase a somewhat decent home.(Pro tip: If you are going to purchase a house using a $10 dollar bill, add $2 more dollars so you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance. That could cause the price of a house to rise by 18 cents.)(For further inquiries on purchasing a house, check: A Guide to Buying a House in the U.S
Luckily there is a way to circumvent this whole affair of trading in your precious income for a home. Depending on your situation, you can gain possession of a house for free-without inheritance or auction involved. This is not a government initiative nor does it involve grabbing other people’s property and it’s all perfectly legitimate. (To understand why the housing market shifts so unpredictably, read Why Housing Market Bubbles Pop.)
Just squat for a few years without the owner’s knowledge. Easy, isn’t it?
This may seem ludicrous but the courts always rule in favor of the squatter if the registered owner of a property decides to bring the matter before a judge (Assuming the squatter abides by simple rules that we will explain soon)
Why would the legislature write laws that recognize claims of ownership by squatters? Isn’t capitalism the economic model by which America runs? Well for instance the law does not use the unsophisticated word “squatter. “In contrast if you squat you’re known as an adverse possessor. However this should not be interpreted to mean that you can unilaterally take possession of a rich neighbor’s property when they are out vacationing. It’s a little bit more complicated than that.
The reasoning behind confiscating property from a taxpaying owner and handing it over to a perceived opportunistic tenant is that idle land should be used for economic activity. In the case of an absentee owner who never checks on the property nor has someone looking over it, the property becomes derelict. This leads to the property devaluing hence causing other property adjacent to it to depreciate.
The law governing real estate grants protection to the squatter who cares more about the property and chooses to live there compared to the absentee owner who is not concerned about the state of the property.
What is the amount of time one needs to squat on a property in order to lodge an ownership claim? The amount of time required for the squatter to live there depends on the state. In Nevada it is five years before ownership can be transferred. In Hawaii, its twenty years. In a majority of states it varies from five to thirty years.
Furthermore there are additional rules one must follow. You are not allowed to build an underground tenement on a hidden part of the property and only move about out of sight.Every staterequires one to live there openly and go about their business within sight. Also your stay there cannot be interrupted and must be continuous. So if your aforementioned rich neighbor vacations in the Caribbean Islands every winter, you can’t move in to his house for 15 consecutive winters, move out every spring, then make a visit to the county assessor’s office and claim his place as your own.
Ideally it should be very easy to get ownership of a property through this unconventional means so is this law ever applied in real life? Of course it is. In the year 2007 in Boulder, Colorado a couple who owned a piece of land left it unused and unchecked well past the state’s eighteen years requirement. A neighbor who was not only a judge but also the city’s former mayor- had squatted on this property which prime land was measuring a tenth of an acre wanted ownership transferred to him as its adverse possessor. The court’s ruling was in favor of the judge and the couple were left with nothing but tax bills to show for the site of their would-be dream home.
In conclusion, with unyielding determination, you can take adverse possession of a neglected pieces of property, have all the contingencies break in your favor and pray the current owner remains aloof until the stipulated period lapses. However for the majority of us its far more easier to acquire a home through conventional means.(To assist in your journey to purchase a house, see Are You Ready To Buy A House?)