Buyers BEWARE: Contracts to watch out for when acquiring a home

ATLANTA - Authorities told Channel two Action News that a resurgent owner financing practice is offering households in low-income communities a possibility at home ownership using a catch.

It's known as a contract for deed. Families who can't get a conventional mortgage sign around the dotted line and are told they're home owners. But authorities say they don't personal a thing.

Charles Wright signed a contract for deed when he bought his DeKalb County home. He leveled the backyard, repaired the roof as well as replaced the flooring.

"I went into it as if this place have been mine," Wright told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston.

"Because that is what you were led to think?" Huddleston asked.

"Absolutely," Wright stated.

Soon after renting, even living in a hotel with his two young daughters, Wright previously thought his dream of homeownership was out of reach.

"He said, 'Congratulations in your 1st home, you might be a new homeowner,'" Wright remembered. "I was just a content dude. I will never neglect it."


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Shortly signing for his household, Wright was hit by a car or truck, and missed payments on his new property. A homeowner with a mortgage would happen to be protected, but Wright discovered he did not own a point.

"Then wham -- eviction notice on my door," Wright told Huddleston. "I've taken some blows, but this 1 was the ultimate."

Massive corporations acquire blighted properties in low-income neighborhoods in bulk. Corporations say they offer a path to homeownership lots of believed impossible.

"These instruments are structured to set somebody up, assistance them fail after which go obtain the following individual," mentioned attorney Sarah Stein, of Atlanta Legal Help.

Atlanta Legal Help represents Wright. He's certainly one of the initial to fight a contract for deed inside a Georgia court.

Stein stated when someone indicators a contract for deed, they may be responsible for repairs, taxes, insurance coverage in addition to a high rate of interest.

"There are companies which can be undertaking this in lots of states inside the nation. It appears to possess develop into much more well known far more recently," Stein mentioned.

The providers involve Harbour Portfolio, a Texas-based firm run by Chad Vose. The company's contracts for deed practice in Georgia is totally legal.

Channel two dug via tax records, and located Harbor Portfolio owns more than 100 residences in metro Atlanta, including Wright's. In accordance with court records, Harbour Portfolio bought the home from Fannie Mae for $11,000 and sold it to Wright for $37,000, at a 10 percent rate of interest.

Because Georgia does not demand contracts to become tracked, it's not possible to know how several corporations use them, and how many property purchasers sign them.

"The seller of a contract for deed doesn't want it inside the public record. They need to be capable of treat it as a contract that will be terminated in 30 days and have no evidence within the record," said Frank Alexander, of Emory Law. "They are, in reality, even so, probably the most hazardous documents anybody could ever sign."

Alexander is definitely an specialist on Georgia housing policy. He stated other states, like Texas, have adopted new laws to regulate contracts for deed so there is much more transparency for the residence purchaser.

"The purchasers have no protections below Georgia law," Alexander stated.

He said Georgians, like Wright, desperate to be home owners may not be savvy sufficient to understand what they are basically signing.

"If the individual ever blinks the incorrect way, misses a payment or fails to mow the grass or spend the taxes they are evicted and also the seller keeps every thing," Alexander said.

Wright desires to alter that.

"All I know is it's not fair," Wright said. "I gave them my money and I place all my money into this home below the impression that it was mine and it is not mine."

Wright and Atlanta Legal Help stated they hope this lawsuit will create a precedent in Georgia that creates legal recourse to Georgians who've signed a contract for deed.

Harbour Portfolio denied any wrongdoing, but declined to comment to Channel 2, citing pending litigation with Wright.