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Think your backyard is big? A homeowner in Ohio found out his was not as large as he thought.

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By CHRISTIAN HAUSER, WKRC

CINCINNATI (WKRC) — JR Cramer thought he was buying his dream house when he saw a home on Virginia Avenue in Northside, a neighborhood located in Cincinnati.

It was newly renovated and had a big yard with a nice privacy fence. However, about a week after moving in, a neighbor came over to talk to him.

"I was planting flowers along the back fence and (my neighbor) basically said, 'You're planting flowers on city property.' This is inside my fenced-in area," Cramer said. "My first impression was that I moved in next to a crazy person that's, like, what's he talking about? It's inside my fence.”

Cramer started checking with the county auditor and city website and learned the truth: Half of his backyard was city property.

"They basically say that Ohio is a buyer beware state. The previous owner could have fenced in a mile back, and if you don't double check with the auditor and have your realtor do all the research, you're kind of out of luck."
JR Cramer

"People should walk their property before they buy it. They should not trust what other people are going to say about what you're buying. You have to know everything," Cramer said.

The state purchased parts of many of the backyards along Virginia Avenue for a highway project that never materialized in the 1970s. Then, in 2003, Cincinnati took over those sections of properties.

A few months after the purchase, Cramer received another devastating blow. He learned about a sewer basin project set to begin construction parallel to Virginia Avenue.

"(The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati) had been mailing those plans for years. So, not only did the previous owner know this, but the past couple of owners knew it. There's a spot on your (contract) when you start to close on a home, (the owner) can mark whether or not there's any land encroachments. So, essentially, you're on this other person's property. (The previous owner) marked that there were no land encroachments, that there was no problem with the land whatsoever," Cramer said.

Cramer was going to lose half of one of the main reasons he bought the house. He talked to some lawyers about any options he had and was given more bad news.

"They basically say that Ohio is a buyer beware state. The previous owner could have fenced in a mile back, and if you don't double check with the auditor and have your realtor do all the research, you're kind of out of luck," Cramer said. "Me buying my first house, I never would have thought half of this fenced-in yard the city owns.”

Cramer says if he had known the real size of the yard, he would not have bought the house.

"Maybe for some people, losing part of their yard isn't that big of a deal. They care more about the inside. At the time (of the sale), I had a dog who’s now passed away, but I was like, 'I got a big yard for the dog.' It was kind of perfect," Cramer said.

Cramer hopes sharing his story can prevent someone else from making the mistake he did.

The sewer basin project is just getting underway, something he said he can’t wait until it’s finished.

"Then I can finally start working on the outside part of the property. I can finish what I've been waiting a year-and-a-half to do," Cramer said.

Cramer said the contract workers have all been very nice and understanding of his situation. They even offered to help move his shed for him before they dig up his yard.

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