Impact 5: Home buyer gets more than she bargained for with purchase of foreclosure

TEQUESTA, Fla. - A telephone call to a local utility provider may have spared a home buyer the responsibility of a nearly $1,800 water bill, housing counselors said.

Linda Albrecht purchased an HOA foreclosure in the 3900 block of County Line Road in Tequesta earlier this year.

She discovered she was responsible for the previous owner's water bill when she asked the utility to transfer the account to her.

"They say I must pay it," Albrecht said. "They won't turn the water on until I pay that bill."

According to housing counselors, home buyers are made responsible for outstanding fees and bills -- unless they learn of them before they purchase a home and are able to negotiate with the seller.

"Without that due diligence, you are stuck in a position where you take title subject to everything of record," said Paul Krasker, founder of the Paul A. Krasker Law Firm. "Anything that can still be of record that wasn't wiped out in the foreclosure is what you're going to take title subject to."

Krasker said it is often less expensive to settle an outstanding debt than litigate it.

"You really have to check and make sure that if there is a bill on there be educated about it," Albrecht said. "They might make you pay it in order to get water."

Albrecht said her experience was a cautionary tale to prospective home buyers.

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