What If a Homeowner Is Incarcerated?

by | Mar 19, 2019

When you’re dealing with real estate of someone who is incarcerated, the action of purchasing their property can seem daunting. With that said, it truly doesn’t have to be. Many people have done it before and it’s actually quite simple. Let’s start off by getting one thing straight.



The Ability of a Prisoner To Sell Property

According to the book of Prisoner Rights, Prisoners are allowed to legally buy and sell all forms of property, as well as make wills, enter contracts, and sue/be sued for damages. This means that a prisoner is allowed to nominate a person to receive any portion of their property.



How It Works

Every prison has what they call a law librarian who acts as a point of contact for your attorney. Essentially, your attorney will send all of the standard documents to the law librarian so that the inmates can book an appointment with them to look everything over. That law librarian will set up an appointment with both the inmate and a notary, as every jail has connection to a notary, so that they can sign the proper documents and send them off through mail

Be aware that every situation is different, so in the case that you’re dealing with someone in maximum security, it may near impossible to go through the notarization process.



Things To Keep In Mind

For starters, know that this process won’t be as quick as if would be if the seller was on the outside. You have to keep in mind that you’re dealing with snail mail, a highly-guarded institution with inmate property far down on the priority list, and an inmate that probably doesn’t have a ton of free time available to get this stuff done. If a house is coming close to foreclosure, you might run out of time if you cut it too close. The best advice we could give would be to make sure that you have enough time.

Secondly, you want to make sure that you’re working with a great title company when it comes to the title insurance. Consider this:

The property that you are purchasing may have been involved with some sort of criminal activity that put that inmate in jail in the first place. If so, the government may put a lien or lis pendens on the property. Something like that could end up costing you thousands of dollars and a ton of time to get removed.



So Is It Possible?

Absolutely! If the title comes back clean and you have tons of time on your hands, all you need to do is get a written authorization (power of attorney) to legally obtain their property. It seems to be a popular real estate tactic to find homes that are under pre-foreclosure, probate, or vacant properties.

In a sense, finding lists of recent inmates to buy their properties seems to be a market that is untapped for the most part, though makes a ton of sense. Hopefully this article has helped you in some way if you or someone you know is going through this process right now!

Do you have any personal accounts of purchasing property from someone who has been incarcerated? Let us know in the comments!

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