Tips for Selling a House Where Squatters Have Lived

Are you looking to sell a property where squatters have lived? Though it may be challenging, it’s possible as long as you take the proper steps. Working with a cash buyer, renovating your property, and involving your local authorities can help move the process along.

Below, we’ll cover how to sell your home in Massachusetts, even if there is damage from prior squatters on the property. 

What are squatters?

A squatter is an individual that occupies a property (a building or land) they do not own or have any claim to. They are not considered tenants as they are inhabiting a property without permission from the owner. 

Exploring the different squatter types

Squatters may have different goals and reasons behind unlawfully inhabiting a property. Here’s an explanation of the two most common types of squatters and what to expect with each:

Professional squatter

A professional squatter is someone who moves into homes that are up for sale or facing foreclosure. They can have false documents that make it difficult for the police to remove them from the property. If this is the case, you are responsible for evicting them yourself, as the police cannot act on hearsay. The process for this can vary by state, so be sure to consult a legal professional before taking action.

Pay to leave 

Some squatters move into a property so they can request payment in exchange for vacating the house. Paying a squatter is a risky move and is not recommended, as nothing is stopping them from returning. Instead, explore your legal options and take prompt action. You can contact your local court system to begin a formal eviction process.

No matter the type of squatter you’re dealing with, it isn’t recommended that you handle the situation alone. Working with your lawyer, the courts, and the local police force can help to keep you as safe as possible and ensure the situation doesn’t escalate. 

What are the risks of selling a home where squatters have lived? 

Selling a home where squatters have lived comes with a few risks that you should be aware of, including: 

Squatters rights 

In Massachusetts and several other states, there is something called “squatters rights.” Squatters have a legal claim to a property after occupying it for a certain number of years, through a process called adverse possession. Squatters can file for adverse possession if they meet the following criteria.

  • Hostile claim: In the context of squatters, hostile has several definitions. The first is a simple occupation. This is where the squatter doesn’t know that the property belonged to someone else. A squatter can also claim that they live on the property in ‘good faith.’
  • Actual: For this claim, the squatter must be physically present on the property. They must also treat the property as if it is their legal home. This means they must have made efforts to keep up maintenance or show evidence of true residence.
  • Open & notorious: In this type of claim, all parties are aware of a squatter in the home. There is no pretense of ignorance on the squatter’s behalf. 
  • Continuous: This claim may apply if the squatter has stayed at a property for 20 or more years, though the exact number of years varies by state.

Generally speaking, if the squatter doesn’t meet these requirements, they can’t make a claim to attempt to remain on the property. 

Massachusetts also has a land restriction system in place. This is where the original owner can contact the land court to determine the true owner. This is a powerful tool for sellers looking to rid themselves of the delays that squatters can bring and sell what is rightfully theirs. 

In Massachusetts, if the squatter has made a claim, you’ll want to approach the land court to see if you can reject it. 

Property damage

Another risk with squatters is the potential for property damage. Houses with squatters may have incurred long-term and unresolved damage, which can make it more challenging to sell your home. It’s recommended that you conduct thorough inspections and resolve any damage or issues before you show or sell your property. 

Safety concerns

Squatters can pose safety risks for potential buyers. This may make it challenging to find a realtor willing to list your home. If you find a realtor willing to take on the challenge, they’ll likely ask you to remove the squatters before they start showing the house.

A property with squatters will is difficult to sell, as they have a bad reputation for attracting crime. In this situation, the best thing to do is to follow your realtor’s guidance to ensure that you can sell your house as smoothly as possible.

Tips for selling a home where squatters lived

Below are a few options to consider when selling a home that squatters have lived in. 

Consider a short sale

Lack of demand and the prospect of high crime could impact the value of a former squatter property. Home improvements could help to raise the value. But for many, extensive renovation projects aren’t always possible.

If you can’t afford or simply aren’t willing to do repairs on the property, consider a short sale. A short sale is where you sell your home for less than market value. Though a short sale isn’t the most lucrative option, it may be ideal if you want to leave the property quickly and avoid any major renovations. 

Inform local authorities

Some homeowners are hesitant to get the police involved. Instead, they try to evict the squatter themselves. This isn’t ideal and could pose additional safety concerns. It could also delay the process of removal. 

It’s always recommended to contact the local authorities for assistance and protective services. In some cases, the police can remove the squatter from the premises if they don’t have documentation proving their ability to maintain residence. However, be aware that Massachusetts doesn’t have a formal process for evicting squatters. If you’re dealing with recurrent squatting, you’ll likely need to follow procedures and go through the court system to resolve the situation. 

Sell to a cash buyer

Evicting squatters or selling a home that squatters have lived in can be challenging, especially if you are trying to move quickly. A cash buyer will buy your home regardless of the condition it’s in — even with damage caused by squatters.

We’ll pay cash for your home (even if squatters have lived there)

We buy former squatter properties in the state of Massachusetts. We’ve helped many homeowners in similar situations sell their homes quickly, and we’re standing by to help you do the same. Give us a call at 781-309-7085 or fill out our online form to get your cash home offer!

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