“Honey, I bought the town:” Buyer ends up with big chunk of subdivision

Copy-paste glitch gives woman a whole neighborhood

Toll Brothers' Douglas Yearly and property at Sparks, Nevada (Toll Brothers)
Toll Brothers' Douglas Yearly and property at Sparks, Nevada (Toll Brothers)

A Nevada homebuyer who sought one lot in a new subdivision ended up with 85 for the price of one.

A title company’s copy-and-paste error gave the buyer a big chunk of the Toll Brothers residential project in Sparks, northeast of Reno, for about $595,000, the Reno Gazette Journal reported. Much of the Spanish Springs neighborhood that’s being developed by the Pennsylvania-based luxury home builder was transferred to the buyer, who was trying to buy just one home.

When she received dozens of additional lots for the suspiciously low price, including some lots whose homes had already been sold to others, the Washoe County Assessor’s Office flagged the transaction. The mistake was caused by errant highlighting by a Westminster Title worker, who copied and pasted the legal description of property from a previous Toll Brothers deal onto her deed.

“Because it was pretty clear a mistake was made, our assessment services division reached out to Westminster Title right away so they could begin working on correcting the chain of title for the 86 properties transferred in error,” Cori Burke, the county’s chief deputy assessor, told the newspaper.

The assessor’s office said it catches errors caused by incorrect legal descriptions “fairly often,” and they’re mostly due to copy-and-paste mistakes. The properties in question included two common spaces.

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The difficulty of correcting the mistake will depend on how much the buyer decides to cooperate with Toll Brothers on transferring the title back to the firm. A delay could frustrate buyers of lots that were mistakenly included in the deal.

“Someone could try to make things difficult,” Burke said. “However, the title company also has the offer and acceptance for the purchase on file, so intent is pretty clear. I would think it would be a loser in court and doubt it happens often, if at all.”

The newspaper contacted a person in Sparks with the same name as the buyer, who declined to comment beyond a smiley face emoji.

— Sam Lounsberry

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