Adverse Possession: Florida Man Squats In Style, Takes Over $2.5 Million Boca Raton Mansion

Go big or go home.

Or, in the case of Andre Barbosa, go big and go into a $2.5 million bank-owned home in Boca Raton, Fla., that isn’t his, but claim that it is. Then, complete “adverse possession” paperwork (we define the term here) and file it with the county clerk.


Technically, Barbosa is now allowed to live in the home, rent-free, and the local authorities are for all intents and purposes are handcuffed until Bank of America, which reclaimed the property through foreclosure last year, takes notice/action.

And if he pays the bills and property taxes the luxury property would eventually become his by default in seven years.

However, Bank of America doesn’t seem like it is about to let that happen, releasing the following statement on the “serious” matter (via

“We have been in communication with the Boca Raton Police Department regarding the concerns with the occupants of 580 Golden Harbour Drive. There is a certain legal process we are required by law to follow and we have filed the appropriate action. The bank is taking this situation seriously and we will work diligently to resolve this matter.”

Adverse possession is not new; on the contrary, its roots trace back to 16th-century England (we first talked about it two years ago here). It was introduced in Florida decades ago so that farmers could make the most out of abandoned land.

However, with the foreclosure flood in the “Sunshine State” and banks overwhelmed with paperwork, more and more cunning opportunists are playing the adverse possession card while it’s still possible. In fact, 13 such claims were made in Palm Beach County in 2011, 19 in 2012 and six already in 2013.

None clearly as big (or bold), though, as Andre Barbosa.

Actor John Cusack Backs Eminent Domain Foreclosure Solution In Chicago

Imagine this, a responsible Hollywood celebrity who is on the proactive solution side of the nationwide foreclosure epidemic, rather than squandering millions and ending up in a distressed real estate situation.

Our “Celebrity Foreclosures” section is loaded with athletes and other high-profile types who have fallen on hard financial times, but John Cusack is apparently on the opposite side of the epidemic, using his prestige to try and help find a creative solution that short circuits the process, as well as gets his local market in Chicago, Ill., along with the struggling homeowners in it, on the road to recovery faster.

The “Better Off Dead” star, who has appeared in more than 50 feature films throughout his successful acting career, appeared at a recent Chicago City Hall meeting to show his support for using the condemnation power of the “Windy City” government to stem the foreclosure crisis through the use of eminent domain.

“It’s an interesting idea to help keep people in their homes,” Cusack told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If something isn’t done about the foreclosure problem, there’s an increased danger to our city. Property values will come down. People will continue to get thrown out of their homes. It may be imperfect, but it’s an intriguing idea that worth considering.”

Eminent domain is an extremely controversial foreclosure solution. It’s a legal instrument typically, and rarely, used in areas of blight/total disrepair or to satisfy a greater community need. In this case, the local government would seize homes with underwater mortgages — those that have higher balances than their actual current market values — and sell them to investors for discounted prices. The reduced, or “written down,” mortgages would then be offered back to the struggling homeowners.

It’s a process that essentially eliminates the often time-consuming, and overall unsuccessful, process of individual lenders attempting to reduce mortgage principals and agreeing to more favorable terms that keep families in their homes longer and/or indefinitely.

As mentioned, it has it’s many critics, including Chicago’s own Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who doesn’t think “it’s the power of the city” to solve a nationwide housing crisis. Similar push-back on the eminent domain issue in San Bernardino, Calif., which is where this non-traditional idea was hatched, is also making headlines.

Photo by David Sifry ( [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How to delay foreclosure for years

Slow ride, take it easy …

Many Americans are taking the Foghat approach to living these days, unable (or unwilling) to meet their monthly mortgage obligations and, in the process, living rent-free until theirs lenders evict them from their homes.

And with the average distressed homeowner able to live like this for nearly two years (674 days) it’s actually emerged as a popular “strategic” move because of the economic hardship plaguing millions throughout the nation. Indeed, according to a recent CNN Money report, nearly 40 percent of homeowners in default have not paid their lenders a single penny throughout the entire foreclosure process.

The other 60 percent in distress have made some sort of payment(s), “looking for ways to make good with lenders and get their homes back.”

So how is it possible to live in a home for so long without paying a mortgage?

[Read more…]

What is the foreclosure process?

What is foreclosure? Director of Education, Linda Yates, talks about the foreclosure process in the video above, as well as how it’s different everywhere, depending on in which state you live and the laws (non-judicial or judicial) in place. From start to finish, Linda provides a high-level overview of the foreclosure process and the various stages included in it. She also explains the terms Lis Pendens, Real Estate-Owned (REO), Sheriff’s sale and other key words that are common in the foreclosure process.

Foreclosure process: How long (or short) is it in your state?

The length of the foreclosure process depends on several factors, including the lender, government programs, state in which the distressed home is located and individual circumstances, among others. Foreclosures, if ever, are rarely the same.

However, there are state-by-state averages, which Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) tracks each month. Nationwide, homeowners facing foreclosure are collectively 611 days late paying their respective mortgages.

The top places where foreclosures on average take the longest include:

  • New York (767 days)
  • Florida (757 days)
  • New Jersey (708 days)
  • Hawaii (681 days)
  • Washington D.C. (676 days)

The top places where foreclosures on average take the shortest include:

  • Wyoming (398 days)
  • Nebraska (407 days)
  • Alaska (411 days)
  • Idaho (416 days)
  • Arizona (418 days)

Homes in states that follow the judicial foreclosure process typically take longer to get through the system because the courts are so overburdened. Non-judicial states, therefore, are going to typically recover faster, according to Herb Blecher, a senior vice president for analytics at LPS, in a recent interview with BusinessWeek. com.

For more on the foreclosure laws in your state click here. To search foreclosed homes for sales in your area click here.