Hilton Head Properties Real Estate Investments

Gold Standard


Laws and Regulations - by State  
 What is Adverse Possession?  
by Rohn K. Robbins Vail Daily - April 25, 2005  

Adverse Possession is a method of acquiring legal title to real property simply by possessing it for some statutory length of time, and other criteria as required by the state in which the property resides.

Communities all over the US, have properties that have been abandoned due to owner's deceased with no known heirs, or otherwise left to deteriorate.  This becomes blight on the neighborhood, the city, the community - leaving such property promotes rodent and insect infestation, drug dealers, use by homeless, dangerous conditions for adults and children, and often decrease the value of neighboring homes and increase insurance rates and crime.

Adverse possession was established in every state throughout the US for the purpose of ensuring that land that was held by an owner, which was no longer involved with the property, could be properly acquired by someone that sought to put the property to use - given certain circumstances and laws to ensure the protection of the property owner. 

Stewart Title Company
Virtual Underwriter
Underwriter Manual
1.28 Adverse Possession - Texas   
San Francisco Tenants Union - squatting article
San Francisco Tenants Union - adverse possession


-  New York Court of Appeals -  Przybylo v. Walling (possible changes to New York Adverse Laws)   
 See Hilton Head's

Hilton Head has been instrumental in acquiring abandoned properties in communities all over the US, and then providing such properties to individuals who never thought they would own a home - typically for $500 down, and a few hundred dollars a month - where the buyer does the home repairs.  Many of these homes are acquired by adverse possession. 

To manage such a program, considering there is a time element before full title is able to be obtained, requires a company with substantial commitment to the buyers and ability to resolve any future problems.  Hilton Head has mastered this process, having handled over 100 properties acquired by adverse possession.

Hilton Head's policy on adverse possession properties is as follows:

  1. Only acquire properties on which considerable research has been done, and it has determined that the true owner has truly abandoned the property, or is deceased and no heirs have been located.  This is determined by internet research, court & county record searches and speaking with neighbors.

  2. Primarily find properties which also have significant delinquent property taxes and/or code violations, which an average individual could repair.

  3. If a claimed owner appears, and provides proof of ownership of the property, Hilton Head will:

    a. attempt to purchase the property

    b. if such purchase is denied, shall turn the property over to the true owner as quickly as is feasible, depending on if the property is occupied by a tenant or adverse buyer.

If a buyer is required to turn his home back over to Hilton Head, so they can transfer such property over to the true title holder, Hilton Head will:

  1. Provide the buyer his selection of a home from Hilton Head's and/or their affiliate’s inventory of properties.  Providing a home of equal or greater value, and equal or better repair status based on the value and repairs as of the date the buyer moved from the home - at the same price and payments as the prior home.

  2. While Hilton Head shall provide such property, thereby compensating the buyer for any repairs, and providing a repaired home, Hilton Head shall also provide the buyer free legal assistance to seek the expenses of repairs in the prior home be repaid back by the owner to the buyer if state allows.

  3. Provide the buyer allowance for moving expenses.

Historically, Adverse Possession was the legal and intellectual basis for 'squatting' - - occupying abandoned property in a 'notorious' (that is to say, open and obvious) manner for a period of time after which the property in question passes from the original owner to the squatter. 

This concept dates back to the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Smer, which specified that if a citizen failed to cultivate his land for three years, another citizen could take possession of the land by putting it to good use. 

Adverse possession favors community benefit over individual control, a basic tenet that advances the good of a particular society rather than the exclusive legal right of an individual.  And like other good ideas, it has passed from one society to the next - - from the Romans to the British to finally become part of common law in the US.  The basic philosophy is that "land use has historically been favored over 'disuse'."


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