Houston family paid $135K for home, but seller never changed title

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Manzano family moved into their southeast Houston home in the fall of 2015, paying $130,000 for the property in cashier's checks. But more than five years later, the seller's name is still listed on property records.

Antonio Manzano told ABC13 the seller never filed paper work to transfer the title, even after years of asking her to do so.

"I just feel that they were taken advantage of," said neighbor Elizabeth Zermeno. "She kept reassuring them that everything was okay, that they would get their paper work soon."



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Now, neighbors like Zermeno are stepping in to help the Spanish-speaking couple and their children find answers.

"I spoke with her. Another neighbor spoke with her, and she promised to bring the paper work even as late as last Friday, and still no-show," said Zermeno.

The family received a notice the property is being foreclosed on and will go up for auction.

"They're under a lot of stress and sometimes he tells me that it's very hard for him to sleep at night because he keeps thinking what's going to happen to him and to his family," said Zermeno.

Real estate attorney Amir Befroui with Lone Star Legal Aid said the transaction raises red flags because the seller used a quitclaim deed.

"It means, I as the seller, I'm going to quit claiming any interest in this property. Hence the name quitclaim deed," said Befroui. "Anytime there's a quitclaim deed involved it sends up my antenna so to speak."

He says the legal document offers no protection for the buyer and should never be used for property purchases. ABC13 tried to reach the seller, who works at a title company, but she did not return our message.

The family's home is safe, for now, after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo canceled February's property auction.

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