RENO, Nev. – A Nevada homebuyer literally got more than she bargained for after ending up with an entire swath of lots in a subdivision in the west-central part of the state – while buying a single-family home.
The buyer was originally purchasing a single-family home in Sparks, Nevada, valued at $594,481. However, the Washoe County (Nevada) Assessor and Washoe County Recorder’s Office had records showing the buyer gained not just the property she was buying but also 84 extra house lots – and two additional parcels – in Toll Brothers’ Stonebrook development just northeast of Reno.
The properties include several home sites that have already been built on and sold. At least 64 of the lots were put under the buyer’s name as of Saturday.
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The transaction was flagged by the assessor’s office, which says it quickly notified the title company involved about the issue. The culprit? Apparently, all it takes is four keystrokes to accidentally give someone the title to properties worth millions of dollars.
“It appears Westminster Title out of Las Vegas may have copied and pasted a legal description from another Toll Brothers transfer when preparing (the homebuyer’s) deed for recordation,” said Cori Burke, chief deputy assessor for Washoe County, when reached on Monday.
“Because it was pretty clear a mistake was made, our assessment services division reached out to Westminster Title right away so they could begin working on correcting the chain of title for the 86 properties transferred in error.”
The Washoe County Assessor’s Office updates ownership information for such transactions based on the legal description provided in the recording as opposed to the parcel number, according to Burke. In this case, the legal description in the transaction that was officially recorded on July 25 specifically stated that it encompasses “lots 1 through 85 … and Common Areas A and B.”
Flagging errors caused by incorrect legal descriptions actually happens “fairly often,” largely due to copy-and-paste mistakes, according to Burke.
“This particular case is just a little more interesting because of the number of lots involved,” Burke said.
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Correcting the mix-up will require the homebuyer in question to transfer the title back to Toll Brothers. Once those documents are recorded, ownership can transfer from Toll Brothers to any new property owners through our normal process, Burke said.
Just how easy the process will be is going to depend on how cooperative the other party is. With several of the properties involved already sold to other buyers, any extended delay in getting back the title could cause potential headaches.
“I think someone could try to make things difficult,” Burke said. “However, the title company also has the offer and acceptance for the purchase on file so intent is pretty clear. I would think it would be a loser in court and doubt it happens often, if at all.”
The Reno Gazette Journal has reached out to Toll Brothers for comment. The RGJ has also reached out to a Sparks resident with the same name as the buyer and received a “no comment” response with a smiley face emoji.
Follow Jason Hidalgo on Twitter @jasonhidalgo.