Copy-Paste Error Grants Woman 87 Properties For The Price Of One Home


Buying a home can be stressful and costly, but one lucky homebuyer in Nevada had an incredible stroke of luck. While she thought she was purchasing a single-family home in Sparks, Nevada, she ended up getting much more than she bargained for. In addition to her Sparks home, the deal somehow included 84 other house lots and two extra parcels in Toll Brothers' Stonebrook development near Reno. The property she was looking to buy estimated at $594,481, making it a fantastic deal for the buyer.

87 Properties For The Price Of One

Although the mistake seemed like a great opportunity, it turned out that some of the properties included in the deal were already purchased and developed by others. The assessor's office quickly noticed the error and informed Toll Brothers about the issue. Surprisingly, the whole mix-up happened due to a simple copy-paste error, which mistakenly transferred properties worth millions of dollars to an unsuspecting buyer.

"It appears Westminster Title out of Las Vegas may have copied and pasted a legal description from another Toll Brothers transfer when preparing (the homebuyer's) deed for recordation," said Cori Burke, chief deputy assessor for Washoe County. "Because it was pretty clear a mistake was made, our assessment services division reached out to Westminster Title right away so they could begin working on correcting the chain of title for the 86 properties transferred in error."

The Washoe County Assessor's Office is responsible for updating ownership information after transactions like this one. However, the update is done based on the legal description rather than the parcel number. This means that the official recording of the transaction on July 25 indicated that it included "lots 1 through 85 … and Common Areas A and B."

Returning The Ownership

Burke revealed that flagging errors due to incorrect legal descriptions are relatively common, often resulting from other copy-paste blunders. However, this case stands out due to the sheer number of lots involved. To resolve the situation, the homebuyer must transfer the title back to Toll Brothers, who can then proceed with the regular ownership transfer to new buyers.

The urgency to expedite the process arose because some lots were already purchased by other people. Their cooperation hinged on the willingness of the Nevada homebuyer, now unexpectedly owning 87 properties. "I think someone could try to make things difficult," Burke said. "However, the title company also has the offer and acceptance for the purchase on file so intent is pretty clear. I would think it would be a loser in court and doubt it happens often, if at all."

The company didn't have to worry about the homebuyer's cooperation. "On August 9, 2022, true and rightful ownership was returned through a new document recorded by Westminster Title," Burke said on August 12. "The Assessor's Office has updated the ownership on all of the associated parcels."

Buying A Home In 2022

"It's a pretty tough time to be a first-time homebuyer now," said Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics Chief Economist. "High mortgage rates are combining with high house prices, and affordability is being crushed. So, first-time homebuyers are getting locked out of the market. Straight-up buyers are locked in because they'd have to sell the home with a low mortgage rate and buy a home with a higher mortgage rate. And that's very difficult to do."

In June, the average price of single-family homes in the U.S. was $450,000. This amount had increased by 16.9% from June 2021 and over 31% from June 2020. Due to this price surge, fewer people were applying for mortgages, marking the lowest number in 22 years, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Some experts suggest waiting before buying a home, hoping the market will get better. However, there's no guarantee that it will improve. Some people choose to buy quickly in case the economy worsens. Rachel Luna, from Patriot Title in Houston, advises buyers not to rush into decisions because they might lose money if they need to sell the property later.

"Be patient," Luna said. "What really matters when purchasing a house is your personal finances and long-term economic stability. Ask yourself: Are you debt-free? Do you have an emergency fund for three to six months of expenses? Will your monthly house payment be 25% or less of your monthly take-home pay? If you don't comfortably meet these qualifications, it wouldn't matter if the market is in your favor."