A Modern Day Mystery in the Making

Sometimes what seems to be a simple real estate request can unfold into an ongoing mystery.

Last month a client came into our office searching for a property in Canton to establish a business on Route 138. All the   visible and listed properties were approached, but none were the right size or the right price range. So I did a little homework to see who owned any other locations that either had not been built up or had no active business located there. First, several of us made inquiries local land owners that might have some potential property deals up their sleeve, but no dice.

The next approach was with the town assessor’s department to see who owned what. In Canton the properties are not listed numerically in order by address on an easy access website. This meant a trip to the assessing department where I was graciously helped to look up each section of the map of Canton listing parcels on Rt. 138  to determine what properties were potentially available. Now came a little letter writing to the owners to see if anyone was interested in selling. While it was a shot in the dark, one owner did get back to me, and there is a potential for some build out. However, the property that my client really was interested in seemed to have some back taxes owed on it, and the letter came back addressee unknown.

I visited the adjacent businesses to get some background on what appeared to be an abandoned property and got the low down that the owner had passed away years ago. I also heard there might be a chemical spill on the property. I got in touch with the tax collector, and taxes are owed all the way back into the 1980’s plus there had been some testing done on the property for an oil or gas spill. The town was in the process to begin a tax taking on the property, but wasn’t sure who owned it. The town did give me the last known owner, which was the address that had come back to me. They are also in the process of doing a title search to see who currently owns it, but seem stalled as to who is the owner.

Meanwhile, I tried to see if a will was probated with the local probate court, but have not had success. Our office did locate someone with the same name who used to live in Canton but now lives out of state [and is the wrong age], and I have written him a letter to see if he can help. I have had no response as of yet. I also found information on the chemical testing through the state which referenced another name as a possible owner-although this has led to another dead end. . At this point, I am still hot on the trail for the owner.

So you can see, here at Legal Edge, we really do use all types of resources to get our clients what they are looking for. You should also never be afraid to ask about a property that might seem unavailable, because someone just might be willing to sell.

What would you do next to track the owner down?



  1. Whew … what a lot of work you have done, Lisa … great job! Good luck! Gwen