Is it legal for someone to sell you a house they do not own?

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Is it legal for someone to sell you a house they do not own?

My mother-in-law purchased a house from a man but he did not own the house at the time he sold it to her. He purchased it 6 months later. Can she get her $30,000 down payment back?

Asked on December 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If your mother-in-law purchased a home from a person who did not own the property being sold, did he have a valid power of attorney presented to escrow stating he was authorized to sell it? Was the person selling the property authorized to sell the property on behalf of a trust as the trustee?

if not, then the sale might not be valid. Was there a formal escrow handling the sale or was the sale some transaction not overseen by an escrow officer, title officer, real estate agent or a real estate attorney?

If so, I suggest that you and your mother consult with a real estate attorney about the sale you are writing about in that the seller may not have had legal title to sell the property you have written about. If so, your mother should be entitled to her $30,000 back.


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