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‘The LOT Heard Round the World’ – Million Dollar House on Wrong Lot Conundrum Resolved Peacefully
Once the two parties got past the expected legal jousting, the homeowner’s bank became the stumbling block. A flood insurance issue prevented the bank from approving a simple lot swap transaction. By Toby Tobin
PALM COAST, Fla. – August 28, 2015 – Last October, GoToby.com broke the story. ‘Million Dollar Home Built on Wrong Lot in Ocean Hammock, NE Florida’ That story attracted worldwide attention in scores of countries and almost as many different languages. I call it “The LOT Heard Round the World.” The resulting dispute has been resolved with a simple solution.
21-23 Ocean Ridge – Ocean HammockThe story came to light shortly after local builder Keystone Homes completed a home for Mark and Brenda Voss, of Missouri. It turned out that the property survey on which Keystone relied was in error. The surveyor had mistakenly (miSTAKEnly) placed survey stakes on the boundary of the lot next door to the Voss lot. The new house was constructed on a lot owned by Andrew Massaro and his wife, of North Carolina. The mistake was not discovered until after the house was occupied.
Mark and Brenda Voss already owned other homes and building lots in the Ocean Hammock – Hammock Beach neighborhood in Northeast Florida. The private community is anchored by the Hammock Beach Resort and consists of the resort, condominiums and single family homes. Its Oceanfront location attracts affluent retirees, second home-owners and vacationers.
GoToby.com readers speculated about possible outcomes. Some thought the Massaros would end up with a “free” house. Clearly, the large block-constructed house could not be moved. Others posited six or seven-digit lawsuits. But the courts have a well-established tradition against “unjust enrichment.” A negotiated settlement was the answer.
Once the two parties got past the expected legal jousting, a deal was struck; essentially a lot swap. Voss got the Massaro lot (on which his house stood) while Massaro got the adjacent Voss lot. In addition, Voss paid Massaro $20,000, representing the difference in value of the two parcels. Altogether, a simple solution.
Actually not so simple. The devil is always in the details. The Vosses had a mortgage. But the mortgage was for a house on the Voss lot, not one on the Massaro lot. The lender could not find a way to transfer the mortgage without disrupting the flood insurance coverage required by the house’s oceanfront location. The bank was concerned that they might be momentarily at risk.
Voss tried to explain. The existing flood insurance coverage was already problematic because of conflicting legal descriptions arising from the surveying error. But for months, the dunderheads at the bank remained tone deaf. To resolve the standoff, Voss removing the irritant bank from the negotiations by paying off the mortgage. While he derided the bank’s efforts, Voss spoke highly of Keystone’s cooperation throughout the ordeal.
The Flagler County Clerk of Court has recorded Voss’s new deed, ending this saga.