Friday, May 04, 2007

A land debacle in Box Elder County, Utah

Back in the day, I looked at some investment properties in Box Elder County, UT. At $300/acre, why not? At the very least it was a paper asset. But according to Box Elder County officials, the people that were subdividing the property without permission was comitting a criminal offense. Youch!

They've sent out "notice of noncompliance" to thousands of people, telling them their property was illegaly subdivided. Most of the property buyers bought the land online from Yahoo Auctions, eBay, Overstock, etc.

One of the people that have allegedly subdivided parcels without permission, according to public records, the county, and my own records, was Larry Madsen of 13871 S. 1950 W, Bluffdale, Utah 84065.

I bought land there from Madsen or other developers, what should I do?
You can send an e-mail to the Box Elder officials at They are looking at options to alleviate this problem. Do not expect a response, since a few thousand people have already e-mailed them.

Is my deed valid?
If the deed was recorded correctly, your deed is valid and you own the property. It's just that the original owner, Madsen and others, didn't ask permission before they sold it.

What's going to happen now?
I spoke to the county attorney's office and they are still looking at their options. They could technically go after the developers and fine them and leave the properties as is, or they could ask developers to take back the properties (assuming you don't want it anymore).

Are there any other things to know?
Most of the folks I know that bought this property knew it was in the middle of nowhere and it had no electricity. It was flagged as recreational property (Madsen appropriately flagged it when he sold me a parcel). So no one really hid this fact. If another developer tried to tell you this was buildable and it wasn't, they could be held liable.

Why did the developers do this?
Well they sell land to make money, but to answer the question why they didn't ask permissions and fill out the proper zoning permits -- probably because they didn't know. I asked Madsen by email on how they are rectifying this and said, "We have contacted an attorney in Box Elder County to help us determine what needs to be done to rectify this problem. We will let you know what we find out and what we are able to do to resolve this issue with the County."

Stay tune, I'll update this post with more info. I'm expecting a call from the county attorney on Tuesday.

If you are interested in investing in land and how to properly conduct your own research, buy this helpful book below. A lot of it is based on my own mistakes experience in the past.


Unknown said...

I am in the exact same position as you described it, I bought 1ac form Larry Madsen, didn't survey it and never set my eye on it. I received the same scary letter from the Cpunty I called and asked what need to be done , they replied, nothing we recorded your phone call and you'll have to sit tight.
I just want to pay a visit to MY PROPERTY, only i have no clue how to get to it and the recorded deed is of little help. 3 the of 3/5 Nw of Nw of NE means nothing not even a GPS coordinate.

mike said...

I am not a fan of lawsuits, but I thing that we should collectively go after the Madsens and Box Elder county. They recorded the two lots that I bought and when I talked to thier personel on the phone to see where my paperwork was, I was told that "these sales are not right and are misleading" I emailed Ms. Madsen and told her to list her properties as nonbuildable on e-bay, but the sales and county recording continued. If anyone would like to persue the class action lawsuit, please contact me at