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Deeds don’t match tax lot  




I recently purchased a parcel at a county tax foreclosure auction. 

I had it surveyed and the surveyor identified an area of the tax lot (we can fall it a 5 acre parcel) whose ownership he deemed “questionable” 

It seems the deeds that identify the chain of ownership at some point get unclear and outright contradictory  

I would like to hire someone who can read the 3 or 4 prior deeds and plot the land described on them.

The land is in NY.

Can someone help me?

thank you,



This topic was modified 1 year ago by Josephny

Can someone help me?

Yes. The Surveyor you hired. If he can't, you hired the wrong surveyor.

Caveat Emptor. Years ago I stumbled into a situation that involved a clerks deed on a parcel sold in a tax foreclosure sale on a lot that resulted from a surveyor's mistake made in the early 1960s. The surveyor subdivided a Government Lot 330' wide on a lake without going to the trouble of properly retracing the parent parcel. He then created a parcel 200' wide and put the remaining 130' on the east side when it should have been the west where the parent parcel boundary was, creating a lot that overlapped the adjacent Government Lot by 130'. Though the remainder lot wasn't given a legal identifier, it was still sold and the local government picked it up for non payment of taxes and then sold it again at an auction in the 1980s. The people who acquired it at the auction then used it as collateral on a $100k mortgage and had plans to build a summer home there on the lake. When I came along and pointed out that the lot didn't actually exist, I wasn't very popular in a few circles. 

Carry on. 

7 Answers

There are a few people from NY on this forum that may be able to help directly or indirectly  on your question.  In the meantime, I will suggest that you may need a title attorney to work with your surveyor to work on this issue together.  You should seek out someone that has property experience in these types of searches.  Very likely you may need to have the title run backwards on the relevant parcels to their original descriptions which could go back farther than just the last 3 or 4 owners.  Depending on the value of the land and how much the 5 acres is compared to the whole parcel it may or may not wind up worth the hunt.  I would think it would be but you never know until you start getting some budget numbers from the people involved.  They may not be able to tell you exactly what it will cost to search for this and they also may not be able to resolve the question based on the records available once they do the work.  These searches are difficult and sometimes leave everyone unsatisfied....and sometimes they resolve well.  Good luck. 


The advice from the surveyor is his opinion about the title interest of your purchase.

Many times the person selling a property does not have complete ownership.

Different States handle tax sales and the guaranty of Title differently and the ownership of the land does not change the location of the boundarit's of the 5ac tract of land.

What you need is to have a qualified property attorney or a Title Company to offer a Title Opinion on the property.

The quickest and probably most affordable route would be to ask a Title Company for a Title Policy to the property and in their process they shoule be able yo find whether there are any other claims to the property.

The surveyor did his part and job to research the necessary recordings in order to locate the boundaries properly and in your case that showed that some more research is necessary for clear title ownership.

Surveyors do not guarantee ownership.

Thank you all for the great insights!

I should have included that I hired a title company and they refused to issue title insurance because of this issue.

I then had a 90 minute conference call with 2 of my attorneys, the owner of the title company, the title company’s researcher, the surveyor. There was no clear path. Only that the deeds are confusing and I probably don’t want to spend the money going through the court system and that there is almost no chance someone will show up and claim ownership.

Does that help guide me on what to do next?


Take the next step in your career, PPI will get you there


Normally, once a tax sale property has been owned several years and deeded to someone else at least once or twice, a title company will write a policy.

Most will convey to a trusting straw dog or associate and lawfully obtain full title by meeting claimant rights thru the test of process instead of costly legal action.


Option: if you are confident no one will ever challenge you, then look up the adverse possession statute in your state.  Check with your attorney to make sure you are following the criteria, and after many years you will have a case for clear title action you can take to court pretty much unchallenged.  If your predecessors in possession of the land were meeting those criteria the time could be shorter, but I don't know how the tax sale interacts with that.


I wouldn't do any more until the redemption period has passed, you probably already knew this if you are talking with title people, there is a period the land can be reclaimed by the delinquent owner. A quick search shows up to 4 years from the lien date in NY. There are many variables depending on location and notice to the length of this period. 

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Where in NY is the property? What county.

As others have noted, I suggest you get an Abstract of Title then have a surveyor review it.

Sullivan County.

I have a new Abstract of Title.

It shows a chain of title that starts in 1970 for the tax lot. It includes deeds prior to 1970, but they are not specific to my tax lot (that is, they don't include everything in my lot and nothing else).

I think that is why the deed in 1970 does not unambiguously include all the land in the the current tax lot.

Does that make it easier to figure out how to fix this?



Contact me direct and maybe I can be of help.

Duane Frymire, LS, EJD

  [email protected]



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