Can I Steal My House?

When I bought my house, I was informed that it had been moved to it’s current location 10 years ago, from a plot of land 3 miles away. My house is a three story, 4000 square foot multi-family building. It was built over 200 years ago of very heavy materials. I asked a few people how the move was done, but it was only surmised that several trucks must have carried it in several pieces.

My first question is how is this actually done?

After hearing about this, I thought of an interesting idea: stealing houses. What if you bought a few expensive homes on private lots, completely mortgaged out, and then proceeded to move them to new locations in a different state? You could then claim to have bulit the house in that new location and then sell it as a new structure. You could get the specs approved for constructing the building in the second location, and then use those specs to have a builder make the house for you in the original location. You then move the house and everything looks like you built it as planned. The mortgage holder will eventually foreclose on you (after you stop making payments a year later), but will find an empty lot. By then, you have moved your money far away, and have disappeared.

The only possible hitch I see is, will the police pull you over on the highway while you’re moving the house? And if so, can they stop you? Afterall, it is your house.

The History Channel (or maybe The Learning channel) sometimes does shows about this. Usually, they carefully jack the building up a few feet run at least 2 fairly big I beams under it at the sides then a series of smaller ones across the frist ones. Then they attach wheel dollies to those beams and pull the building with truck or bulldozers depending on the size of the building.

Here is a picture of one

As far as the Police stopping you, If you don’t have the required permits etc., for moving something that size on the road I would say yes. Keep in mind these are moved at very slow speeds.

Yep, Mega Moves, a very interesting program.

Real Estate Person here. Several things to think about:

Various permits would be necessary to put the house on the second location. The mortgage company could track it down from these permits.

No matter what happens to the house, you are still responsible for the mortgage amount. A mortgage is a debt and it is not cancelled when anything happens to the house. You’d better insure the property against theft, which would be difficult. Most theft clauses refer to property in the house, not the real property.
And your credit would be shot to hell.

You’d have to buy the second lot to put the house on. If you had the first house mortgaged out, it would be difficult to get a loan to buy the lot. In prime areas, lots can be more expensive than houses. You could end up losing money.

Mike Rowe actually helped out with a historic house move on Dirty Jobs; very interesting. Looked pretty dangerous, too.

Not to mention it is more difficult to get a mortgage for a vacant lot in the first place.

This sounds like an extreme version of the mortgage servicer’s nightmare: You foreclose on a house and find it gutted when you finally get possession of it. At a seminar that I attended, a guy from a major lender told a story about a home that featured an acre of trees. His company foreclosed on the property, and when they got possession, the disgruntled ex-homeowner had removed every single tree. :frowning:

I called my City’s Building Inspector and laid out this scenrio. The response was that the City would get suspious when you apply for permits to build a house and one week later there is a house on the spot. The City requires inspection at many points in the building or renovating process. Without these permits, when the City found out (they are not stupid and they do check building sites), you’d really know what hell is: You don’t have the required permits for moving a house onto the lot. You would be fined every day for every permit you did not have for the house. The amount of fines would be very, very high. If you didn’t get the required permits, you’d have to move the house again.

Apparently they used to move houses decades ago. I was surprised to learn that ac church in my hometown had been moved from the next town over across a river, over a hundred years ago. Granted, it was a small church, and built of wood rather than stone or brick. But still – you have to think tyhat it would be easier, quicker, and cheaper to take it apart and bring it over. Or even to build a new one from scratch. Evidently house-moving is an old and practiced art, and a cost-effective one.

I assisted in the move of this house, back in 1987. Well, assisted may be too strong a word, I did a lot of grunt work carrying two by twelve elm planks from the back of the house to the front of the house. It was a lot like building a plank road, over and over again. It was wet and muddy as well. Plus, I had a hangover.

The thing about house moving is that it’s slow, expensive, and difficult to do. The main culprits are overhead wires and overpasses. With this house, the problem was stabilization. A stone and mortar building constructed before Portland cement was developed, and every mason made his own mud from his own recipe, is a little tricky.

The house you see in the link was moved only a few hundred feet, supported on large I beams and pulled along by winches. I have never heard of a house being successfully moved more than a couple of miles, and that was only affordable because the house had been purchased by a developer who was going to demolish it, and it was sold back to the owner for a pittance.

A stick built (opposed to a modular) house move happens at a walking pace or slower, and attracts a lot of attention. It’s not much of a getaway vehicle.

Why steal your own house when you can steal someone else’s?

I think you misunderstood my idea, somewhat. The idea was to do this to a few expensive, newly built houses in the countryside, and never pay back the mortgage. I don’t doubt that the mortgage holder would be able to track down the house, or that I would still owe the money for that mortgage. However, I will have sold the house, and not wherein, paid the leins on that house because on record, for that address, there wouldn’t be any. Yes, after the fact, when I’ve stopped making mortgage payments, they will track everything down, but I will have taken the money from the sale of the house in it’s new location and long ago headed for a country where I can withdraw, and enjoy my 1,000,000 or so in “profit”. And, no, I wouldn’t care about my credit rating :wink:

The subprime lending business will give me any mortgages I want on anything. I know someone who bought 9 properties without any down payment money, all within 3 months, closing them all simultaniously, so that none appeared on his creidt report before any of them closed. Sure, my interest rate is going to be 11.99% or so, but what do I care? I’m only going to pay it for a year.

I obviously wouldn’t choose to move the house to a lot somewhere in a city. That would be far more red tape, and much easier to scutinize. I would have the house built on a private, very rural lot, near the state line. I would then buy a cheap empty lot, a few miles away on the other side of the state line (maybe only 5-10 miles away, down a very rural road). I move the house there, for what I’m guessing, will be a cost of 50,000 to 80,000, pessimistically. I sell the “new” house for it’s full value, and repeat this trick a few times in quite distant locations from one another, until I have enough money to hit the road. This might take me a couple of years, but as long as I keep paying my mortgage payments, no one has any reason the check out the property.

So the only thing I’d really have to worry about are

  1. Will I get stopped on that rural road by the police?
  2. Will the state come and check on my progress, as I “build” the house? Usually, from my experience, the state never wants to drive out to check on anything, they just want you to send them money.

When you disattach your house from all the electric, phone, cable, sewers, and other connections and then try to reattach them at the other end, you think that nobody will notice? Or are you planning to build a non-working house on a concrete slab?

BTW, how many house moving companies do you think there are in any part of the world? Even if you try to bribe them, that wouldn’t compensate for they’re never being able to work again if you try this trick twice.

And once again, you don’t sell houses, you sell the land that they sit on. How are you going to get your money when the police will there for any closing?

Not even in a bad book could you get away with this plot.

Even in the middle of absoluetly nowhere, the guvmint will be watching you. Building Inspectors are notorious for keeping an eye on illegal activities, even in the boondocks. And you’d still need all sorts of permits, and a final Certificate of Occupancy.

If the government is so diligent in checking on building sites why are tons of the houses in southern states built by illegal immigrants?

I have a feeling that sneaking this by the state will be fairly easy. And, what permits are required? Does anyone know, rather than guessing? The certificate of occupancy is merely someone checking to see if your home meets the standards of safety and energy as determined by the state. It has nothing to do with where the house came from, and can be done after you’ve moved the house.

Obviously, the house would not be connected to any public services other than electricity. It would have a septic system, a drilled well, and other services like phone and cable are not required to look normal. As far as electric goes, shutting it off on the original location isn’t going to alarm your mortgage company. There are plenty of plausible reasons for doing this.

I mentioned that I would do it in very distant locations. I meant in different regions of the country. I would not use the same company twice.

Why would the police be at the closing? As far as anyone knows, I’m selling a brand new house that I built.

The trainer at our farm purchased a house, and moved it to a new location, about 120 miles away.

They put it on top of a basement foundation they had dug to the specific size for it. This was a fairly new (10-15 years old) stick-built single-story ranch house. They got it for a pretty good price, as the whole block of houses was being demolished (to expand a casino), but the moving was a big expense.

You wouldn’t be getting a Certificate of Continued Occupancy. You’d have to get a Certificate of Occupancy on a new house. That’s when they would check for all the permits, etc. CCO’s are every easy to get. CO’s are difficult–it took us two months to get one on our new building, and we had the City involved every step of the way.

I presume that episode was preserved on Mike Rowe film? :wink:

Not to answer your question or anything, but someone recently sold an old victorian house in our neighborhood for like a couple bucks, with the stipulation that it be moved off the lot. Someone took them up on it, but I missed the actual move. How cool is that?

Which also means you’re trying to sell expensive houses in areas with no demand for expensive houses. And building and selling the expensive house without the proper paperwork and preparation would put up a red flag to everyone in the district. Not to mention the moving. You’d have everyone in a 50-mile radius watching you.

And therefore if you tried to pull this off it would look extremely suspicious. And if you got away with it the first time (0% probability), you’d be a wanted fugitive thereafter.