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Buyer beware: Contract for deed may prove costly

Posted: 9:10 PM, Apr 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-14 22:10:06-04

Buying a home straight from the seller may seem like cutting out the middle man, but some say if it's not done right, it can be costly.

Tina Johnson of Kansas City, Kansas, said she thought she was putting money on a home to purchase.

"Within 15 years, we were paying $550 a month for 15 years, we signed a 15-year contract," Johnson explained.

She said she never got a copy of the contract, though, so she consulted an attorney and was advised to stop payment until she could get a copy.

Johnson showed copies of some of the payments she made toward the home, but two weeks ago, police came in and kicked her and her husband out.

Johnson said, "At 5:00 in the evening with the clothes on our back we were told to vacate in five minutes because we didn't have proof of proper paperwork."

Johnson went to Kansas Legal Services for advice.

This type of “contract for deed” agreement isn’t something legal aid Casey Johnson recommends but says he sees it often.

"I have especially in Wyandotte County, I've seen a lot of contract for deed cases or what is known as rent to own cases," explained the legal aid.

Casey Johnson explained that the person trying to buy the home usually ends up with less rights than if they owned the home outright. "What it's not supposed to be is a mixed between a mortgage and a landlord tenant lease situation, which is more than often what happens."

The property owner told 41 Action News that Tina Johnson was delinquent on payments and he took action. Tina Johnson said she just wants her money and belongings back.

"It might sound crazy but my mom's deceased and she's in there and I feel like I've abandoned her and I can't even get in there to get that out, that's important to me. He doesn't care, " Tina Johnson said.

Contract for deeds can be done the right way though. Casey Johnson said "contract for deeds" need to be set up the same way as a mortgage where foreclosure would be needed to get a person out of the house and allow for a redemption period, which is usually three months to a year.

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Shannon Halligan can be reached at shannon.halligan@kshb.com.

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