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Hawaii property owner left stunned after $500K home was mistakenly built on her lot. Now she’s being sued

In World
April 03, 2024
Hawaii property owner left stunned after $500K home was mistakenly built on her lot. Now she’s being sued

Hawaii property owner left stunned after $500K home was mistakenly built on her lot. Now she’s being sued

Annaleine “Anne” Reynolds snapped up some vacant land in Hawaii for about $22,500 at an auction back in 2018.

Reynolds planned to create a picturesque oceanview home using sustainable materials on Puna’s Hawaiian Paradise Park lot to host her meditative healing women’s retreats.

“There’s a sacredness to it and the one that I chose to buy had all the right qualities,” Reynolds told Hawaii News Now.

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But while she waited out the COVID-19 pandemic in California before getting started on construction, a real estate broker mistakenly sold the property to a developer, who bulldozed the lot and built a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house worth about $500,000.

Now, Reynolds, along with the real estate agent, the construction firm, the architect, the prior property owner’s family and the county — which approved the permits — are reportedly being sued by the developer, Keaau Development Partnership.

“It would set a dangerous precedent, if you could go on to someone else’s land, build anything you want, and then sue that individual for the value of it,” Reynolds’ attorney, James DiPasquale, said.

A colossal screwup

Keaau Development Partnership’s attorney Peter S.R. Olson claimed the firm offered Reynolds a parcel of land of equal size, location and value in exchange for her land, or to sell the house to her at a discount, but she rejected the offer.

“I don’t know what she’s complaining about. Her property is appreciated by $450,000. And she’s the victim in this?” Olson told Inside Edition, explaining that all parties have been paid except for his client and they are seeking justice.

Reynolds is counter-suing the developer, saying she was unaware of the “unauthorized construction.”

She also said she’s unwilling to swap lots since the original property fits all of her parameters, including the position of the stars, numerology and the “feel of the land.”

Her attorney, DiPasquale, said he’s been practicing for more than two decades but has never dealt with a case like this before.

“They screwed up so colossally that it wasn’t funny,” he said.

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Risks of buying vacant land

Reynolds hasn’t just been grappling with the mixup and the resulting lawsuit. She’s had to pay higher property taxes since the value of the property has increased — from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, reported Hawaii News Now.

Buyers hoping to score a good real estate deal also need to keep in mind that vacant land comes with several risks.

Reynold said squatters took over the vacant, newly constructed home, allegedly leaving feces behind, until she installed a fence.

If you’re purchasing a home that’s been unoccupied for a while, you might notice there’s been little upkeep or maintenance of the property — which might call for more room in your budget for repairs and renovations as well.

And it’s important to hire a surveyor to identify the boundaries and complete a geology and soils report to determine whether it’s safe to build.

An attorney for PJ’s Construction said the developers didn’t want to hire surveyors, but Olson told Inside Edition this is untrue, claiming his clients did use trusted surveyors and left it up to the construction firm to make the decision on the location of the property.

“There’s a lot of fingers being pointed between the developer and the contractor and some subs,” DiPasquale said.

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