WGVA 106.3FM 1240AMMix 98.5101.7 The WallWFLR Finger Lakes Country Classic Hits 99.3The Lake 100.1/104.5 WAUB 96.3FM 1590AM

Schuyler County Officials Warn of Unsolicited Property Offers


Schuyler County Clerk Theresa Philbin and County Attorney Steven Getman are warning property owners to be aware of unsolicited offers to buy land in Schuyler County, often at a deep discount from the actual value.

“Reports have surfaced this month of a company soliciting property owners in the area offering to buy vacant land for cash,” Philbin said. “The offers include a Purchase and Sale Agreement, asking the owner to sign and send back within a short period of time. The quick cash offer they make is always below the assessed value, and sometimes by as much as 15 to 25 percent. That could cost you thousands of dollars, depending on the price and your property’s actual value.”

“Many of these buyers are, basically, throwing out nets to see if they can find an owner who doesn’t understand the real value of their property or an owner that wants to sell quickly at (almost) any cost. They may be senior citizens, facing a personal situation that is forcing them to consider selling their real estate. These buyers are often hoping to find sellers willing to sell at 85% or less of the true market value.”

While the offer may be perfectly legal, signing and sending back the agreement, Getman pointed out, would create a binding contract. That contract, Getman said, may obligate the owners to conditions or expenses they did not understand before signing.

“For example, the offer may state the buyer will pay all closing costs, but also require the seller to clear up any liens or encumbrances on the property at the seller’s own expense before the sale,” Getman explained. “That could include mortgages, property taxes, or even electric, water, and sewer bills. If the sale price does not cover those expenses, the sellers could be left paying out more than they are getting for the property.”

In another case, Getman noted, the offer required to the seller to convey to the buyer all personal property located on the land.

“That could include items such as expensive appliances, motor vehicles, or even items of sentimental value,” Getman said.

Therefore, property owners should review any documents very carefully and consult an experienced attorney before signing any type of agreement, Getman said.

Philbin and Getman offered several tips to property owners who receive unsolicited offers to buy their land:

  • Never sign anything until you are sure you want to move forward.
  • Have your own attorney review the document before your sign them. If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney via the NYSBA Lawyer Referral and Information Service: https://www.findalawyernys.org.
  • Check out the would-be buyer online. If someone is legitimately interested in buying your home, you should be able to retrieve information about them. Look for any red flags such as bad reviews or lawsuits.
  • Ask for references. If the buyer will not offer any, something is wrong. If their references are sketchy and cannot be verified, you need to rethink doing business with that person.
  • Find out the fair market value of your home before you agree to a price.
  • Consider bringing in a real estate professional to represent you and give you a fair opinion of your land’s value. If the buyer is legitimate they should be willing to discuss terms with your agent.
  • If selling your property seems like a good idea, do not jump at the first offer made (especially if it represents just a small fraction of the land’s worth).
  • Finally, if you receive anything in the mail about your property that seems questionable, Philbin and Getman said that you can contact the County Clerk or, in the event of possible criminal activity, local law enforcement.

“Keep in mind that this is often totally legitimate,” Getman said. “The goal here is to understand what you may sacrifice for convenience.”

“Know your rights before you sign,” Philbin said.

The Schuyler County Clerk is responsible for all books, files and other necessary equipment for the filing, recording and depositing of deeds, maps, papers in actions and special proceedings of both civil and criminal nature, judgment and lien dockets and books for the indexing of the same as directed or authorized by law.

Get the top stories on your radio 24/7 on Finger Lakes News Radio 96.3 and 1590, WAUB and 106.3 and 1240, WGVA, and on Finger Lakes Country, 96.1/96.9/101.9/1570 WFLR.