by: Tony Thomas Updated:
LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga.,None - Douglas County authorities say a Lithia Springs home that officials had condemned in 2009 should never have been sold two years later to an unsuspecting Louisiana couple.
The home was sold as-is in a foreclosure sale but the Jenkins' believe the condemnation should have been noted somewhere in the paperwork or title that they signed.
"Had they told us it was condemned, we would have never purchased it," Carla Jenkins said.
The couple has ailing relatives in the Atlanta area and purchased the home to be closer to them, but now they have moved back to Louisiana because they can't afford the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to bring the home up to code and make it livable.
"We knew that we were going to have to do some work on the property, but we did not know it had been flooded," Jenkins said.
After purchasing the house in late July, the family traveled to Lithia Springs several times to begin repairs, spending about $15,000 in the process.
"I was under the impression basically all we was going to have to do is some sheetrock work and maybe some wiring," Willie Jenkins said.
But then one day a neighbor stopped by to inquire how they were able to buy the condemned property. It was a shock to the Jenkins and ultimately Douglas County authorities as well.
County officials told Channel 2's Tony Thomas they don't believe the home should have ever been sold since they condemned it in 2009, shortly after massive floods.
The Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority, which is its own governing body, received federal money to purchase the home and 18 others. The plan was to demolish the house and leave the land as flood plain.
The WSA said it didn't realize the property was in foreclosure and was trying to reach the man who owned the home when the disaster struck two years ago. The money is still waiting to be spent.
When the home went into foreclosure, Fannie Mae ultimately took over the procedure and sold the property to the
Jenkinses for the low price.
Jenkinses said they've been told the house would have to be raised 12 feet to get it above the flood plain and it would cost at least $85,000 to bring it up to code. That is money the couple wasn't expecting to spend and doesn't have.
They said they asked about any prior flooding and if the home was in a flood plain and were told no several times.
The Jenkins' said they feel duped because they were never told of the condemnation prior to purchasing the property and they want their money and investment returned.
"There is nothing you can do with a condemned piece of property," Willie Jenkins said.
But Thomas found out under Georgia law, the sale may have been legal. Experts said a condemnation of this type may not appear on legal documents including the Title. The experts said if the real estate agent and the seller, in this case Fannie Mae, didn't know about the condemnation, then they obviously couldn't disclose it to the buyers.
An official with Fannie Mae told Thomas the condemnation wasn't official until two months after the sale in 2011, so the transaction was legal.
After being listed with a value of $111,000 earlier this year, the WSA just did another appraisal of the property on Oct. 25 and found the value to be only $2,875.
"Why would we purchase a $10,000 house and spend $100,000 to get it up to code. That doesn't make any sense. Had this information been disclosed, we would have never bought this property," Carla Jenkins said.