What Would You Do If You Found $2,500 In The House You Just Bought?

When you buy a house, it’s pretty common to be slapped in the face (or kicked in the butt) by hidden costs. What is less common is stumbling upon a substantial stash of cash.

A dentist in Massachusetts says that when he hired a crew to do some demo work so he could do some office expansion, they stumbled upon about $2,500 in fifty and one hundred dollar bills stuffed into the wall.

“I was looking out the window in between patients and the fellow was pulling the wall apart and the next thing I knew I saw a flutter of money,” the doc tells Boston’s 7News. “It was everywhere and it wasn’t just sitting there. It was in between the plaster and the boards so they had to hand pick it which took about an hour and a half.”

The homeowner says he gave a few hundred dollars of the concealed cash to the men who found it, but when it came to determining what to do with the balance, he decided to contact the building’s former owners.

“There was no question in my mind that it wasn’t my money,” he explains.

The two sisters who had owned the house say they were surprised to hear about the demo crew’s discovery.

“We went through the house pretty good and we thought we found it all,” said one former homeowner, which seems to imply that there was once so substantial an amount of cash stowed in the walls that $2,500 could go unaccounted for without anyone busting out a sledgehammer.

On the new owner’s decision to contact them, she added, “People don’t do that anymore. It’s a rare quality.”

So we wanted to see how rare a quality it is, by asking y’all to tell us honestly what you would do if you’d been in the same situation:


Man finds $2,500 in house, returns to former owners [WHDH.com]

Thanks to Harper for the tip!

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    Keep it. The contract for purchasing the home is clear – the home and all of its contents, defects and all, are yours.

    • wren337 says:

      This. If you found out the attic was full of mold it’s your problem, why would this be any different.

      • bluline says:

        Agree. It’s like buying a picture frame at a yard sale and discovering money hidden inside the frame, or finding out that the painting is worth thousands of dollars instead of the $10 you just paid for it. It’s yours. Enjoy it.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      This past summer I did what is called a “clean-out” in which you go to an abandoned home and remove the contents and toss it into huge trash containers. The bank needs these places cleaned out and ready for sale.

      My lawn guy invited me to do this and his wife and kids were there also. We got to the garage and you wouldn’t believe what we found; a collection of 70s books about horses (very expensive and signed), a saddle, coins, lawn gear, etc. I have heard that horse saddles are big bucks to collector’s these days. Three boxes of paper-wrapped Kentucky Derby glasses (never used) dating back to the early 70s, an original 1925 Mechanical Eng Degree from Cornell University made from a very strange fabric, a birth cert from 1905 and this guy’s parents marriage cert from about 1895? I found a copy of the U.S. Constitution that was made for the 100th year anniversary for the big party in 1876. It’s cool and its hanging on my wall at home. It has “1776-1876” stamped on it. It must have been owned by the father of the son who owned this house. I also have two bags of family pictures and 8mm film rolls. The pictures are awesome.

      We didn’t find any money though.

      • ModerateOne says:

        How much for the copy of the constitution?

        • Clyde Barrow says:

          @mod; I’ve tried researching the value of this thing but to no avail. I know it is an actual copy from that time frame because of the age and the paper used. At the bottom of the sheet, it’s got an advertisement from a clothing shop based in NYC. It’s a small ad but it gives it credibility. What’s funny is beneath the ad, it states that for .50 cents, you can receive a copy without the ad. lol. Nothing changes when it comes to advertising and marketing, right?

          • RandomHookup says:

            Is it the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence? The Constitution was ratified in 1787, so it would be a little off to use those dates (not unheard of, just an odd choice).

            • RandomHookup says:

              Correction…created in 1787, ratified in 1788…

              • Clyde Barrow says:

                @RandomHookup; Good question and I’ll check it out tonight. I may even take a picture of it and use it as my new profile pic.

                • nybiker says:

                  I guess we might see you on a future episode of “History Detectives?” Or maybe “Antiques Roadshow?”

                  • Clyde Barrow says:

                    Ya know I don’t know if it’s worth a dime, but it is cool to have. It’s my userpic. I just uploaded it.

                    • Clyde Barrow says:

                      It’s the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution as I though earlier today ( I should have remembered this). At the top is “1776-1876 Centennial Memorial”. Near the right-hand bottom is the ad I was talking about earlier. It is from a clothing store located in Brooklyn on Fulton Ave called “Hoyt and Teale”. Does anyone know if it’s still around?

                    • Clyde Barrow says:

                      Hey,,what happened to my new pic?

    • MJDickPhoto says:

      >>Remember, Mrs. Farmer. Whenever you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground belongs to you – whether it’s gold or oil… or Claude Musselman.— Funny Farm (1988)

  2. Wonderweasel says:

    Finders Keepers

    No Givsies Backsies

    You dont move it, you lose it

  3. BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

    I would have done exactly as the good DDS did… although, setting it aside to see if someone would claim it is tempting too.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s very possible that they are lying about the money being theirs. It could be another previous owner. I am not sure you could trust someone to be honest about that. I would keep it in an account and use it for any repairs needed on the house.

      • wjstone says:

        That’s my thoughts on it. Sounds to me like the money may have predated the people that he purchased the building from. I say keep it

      • One-Eyed Jack says:

        All bills have dates on them, so you could guesstimate about how long they’ve been in hiding and in what era they were deposited.

  4. Grogey says:

    The authorities is the way to go IMHO.

    • [redacted] says:

      I’m sorry but that money would go into my bank account. Although I probably would have done the same thing by giving the contractors a percentage for finding it. I bought the house and its contents (good and bad).

    • bluline says:

      I guess it depends on how honest the “authorities” are. I recall a news article from last May about a woman in Dallas who found $2,000 in cash. She turned it in to the police and waited the requisite time to see if anyone claimed it. No one did, so she asked for the money, but the city refused to return it and instead put it in the city’s general fund. That’s why I would never turn it over to the “authorities.”

      (Note: After lots of negative media exposure, Dallas city authorities had a “change of heart” about keeping he cash for themselves.)

    • bluline says:

      In Indiana, in 2009, a highway work crew found $100,000 in an old tire lying beside a highway. They turned it in and never got it back, even though no one ever claimed it.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Perhaps it was argued that it was found in the course of their duties and therefore belonged to the state.

        • MrEvil says:

          The usual claim is “drug money”; the cops test it, finds traces of cocaine (which is way more common than you’d think) and then they’ll confiscate it as “Evidence” and if the money doesn’t result in an arrest or a conviction the law enforcement agency gets to put that cash in their budget.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Yeah, because they are really just super honest, and have neither the authority nor the desire to keep the money for themselves.

      Facepalm

  5. Cat says:

    Woo Hoo! Hookers and blow!

  6. Snakeophelia says:

    I found a little “nest egg” hidden away in the house I bought in 2003 – hidden underneath the radiator in the master bedroom. To judge by the dates on the money, though, it was stored there no later than 1972, which went back at least two owners, maybe three. So I kept it.

  7. Sian says:

    It’s in the contract when you buy the house that you get all the remaining contents.

    Pretty clear-cut.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Do any outstanding seizure orders apply?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Someone told me this story a few years ago. If you’re looking into buying a house and it has a basement and the support beams in the basement are made of hollow metal, tap on the support tubing. If it sounds “solid”, there is a good chance that some previous owner stashed their coins inside for “safe keeping”. He told me that folks from the Depression Era used to do this.

  8. Bodger says:

    Personally, I would consider the money mine. If I found mold and dry rot and termites and rats and roaches in the walls then I’d be stuck with them and I doubt that the seller would feel any sense of attachment to what they left behind.

  9. Kaleey says:

    For tat amount, I would call the former owners. If they did not know where it came from, then I’d keep it – back one level, no more.

    Smaller amounts, I’d probably hang onto, but that amount is pretty substantial. It’s possible that someone would miss that amount.

    But wow: “We thought we got it all.” How much were those ladies hiding??

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Hah that was the part that made me raise an eyebrow as well. Were they storing their entire life savings in the walls or something? Doesn’t seem wise.

    • Nyall says:

      If they said yes, then how would you know if they were being honest?

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      My theory is that the owner prior to the ladies stashed the cash and the ladies discovered it and “thought they got it all.” But I’m cynical.

  10. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    No choice for “It depends”? I had to sue the people we bought our house from in small claims court. It was clearly in the contract that they would pay for certain repairs after closing, and the fact that they settled the day before our court date only confirmed that they were just being douchebags about it. If I found their money, I’d have kept it. If I didn’t know and have good reason to despise the former owners, or worse, it was a foreclosure or short sale, I’d definitely return all the money.

    • teke367 says:

      Exactly, I certainly would at least wait until I made sure there wasn’t anything that needed fixing that I wasn’t aware of.

  11. CubeRat says:

    I’m looking for new furniture, so my initial response was “buy furniture”. However, I know I’d try to contact the former owner or the police.

    Catholic upbringing.

    • Markitect says:

      Don’t they teach this in Catholic churches? “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

  12. George4478 says:

    I’d keep it and use it to fix the little problems the previous owners didn’t mention.

    The leaky faucet, the drafty window, the door that sticks when it rains, the dishwasher that shoots fire across the kitchen when you select ‘heated dry’.

  13. Cosmo_Kramer says:

    I’d call the former owner and if I can determine it’s most likely theirs (e.g. they know approximately where I found it or how much money was there), I’d give it back. Because I’m not an asshole who feels entitled to money that someone forgot about.

  14. Straspey says:

    If you give the cashier a ten dollar bill, and she mistakenly gives you back change for a twenty – do you point out her error and give it back ?

    If the person walking in front of you on the street accidentally drops a ten dollar bill while reaching into his pocket for his phone – do you run and catch up to him, saying “You dropped this”, while returning it to him ?

    If you buy a sweater online, and the package has two swaters, instead of the one for which you paid – do you contact customer service and let them know, asking if you can return it to them ?

    If you move into a house that already has the gas and electricity turned on, do you call the power company and tell them to set up an account in your name – or do you just keep living there and using the “free’ power without paying ?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Yes, Yes, No, No.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Yes to all four. The last one is basically theft. Once the utility company figures it out, they will come after you for the total unpaid balance plus penalties and late fees.

    • [redacted] says:

      All of your “what ifs” are missing a very important piece of paper. The contract that states you own the home and its contents.

      Like above, I’d go Yes, Yes, No, No.

    • Rachacha says:

      I agree completely with Loias, although I might say YES to #3.

      The difference however (and what is not know in this story) is time and a contract.

      How long had the OP had the house before he started the renovation? Does the OP know that the money belonged to the previous owner? Could it have possibly belonged to the owner before that?

      The OP signed a contract for the house, the good, the bad and the ugly, meaning that if during the construction the contractors uncovered aluminum wiring, or corroded plumbing, the OP incurs an expense to repair the damage. In this case, he found something valuable.

      My parents have valuables tucked in all corners of their house, and when they move I will have to go through the entire house with a fine toothed comb looking for anything that they may have forgotten about. If I gorget something…oh well, my bad.

      • Bakkster says:

        The question isn’t “can you keep the money”, it’s “would you keep the money”. Sure, by contract the money is yours, but since when has the presence of a contract meant the Consumerist commentariat immediately accepted it? Why is it OK to keep money erroneously left by the previous owner of a house because the contract says so, but not OK for a bank to charge huge overdraft fees because the contract says so?

        Put another way, why do people think it’s OK to take advantage of a contract when it’s in their favor, but not OK for a company to take advantage of a contract when it’s not in their favor?

        • Rachacha says:

          Perfect example. I purchased a piece of property. On that property was a storage shed filled with some things that were trash, but some other items of value (lawnmower, tools, hardware, lighting fixtures etc), a pool with an expensive pump, filter and a variety of upgrades (all easily removable), and 4 pallets of an expensive limestone.

          Should I contact the seller and ask him if he wants each of these items back. I contacted several experts about the pool equipment and removable upgrades (not necessary for the pool to run), and they tell me that they were worth $10,000 for the upgrades, and another $3000 for the pump and the filter. Value of items in the shed, another $1500, and the limestone, brobably another $5000. None of these items were permanently connected, none were listed in the contract (many of them I did not know about until after I purchased the property), so should I have contacted the seller and given him an itimized list of everything he left behind and asked if he wanted it back? NO

          I imagine that my situation is not unique and sellers leave certain items in the house. It is assumed, unless stated otherwise that upon signing the contract, unless otherwise stated, those items belong to the buyer.

          • Bakkster says:

            The seller of my current house (a short sale) left us several items, including yard items and the washer/dryer since they were moving to an apartment and wouldn’t need them. We also found some china they clearly didn’t leave intentionally and contacted them to return it. Even though there’s a dead tree in the front that needs to be taken down and we just spent a few thousand to repair faulty wiring and we have many infractions left by them with the HOA.

            It was the right thing to do, if I left china at an old residence accidentally, I would want the new owners to return it to me as well. IMO, it has nothing to do with whether you need to do something, and everything to do with what kind of moral fiber you have. Again, if a corporation were the recipient of a windfall at your expense, wouldn’t you expect them to do the right thing and return it?

            • dwtomek says:

              If you honestly expect a corporation to do the right thing, you are living a nice delusion that I would like to partake in. In the real world, no a corporation will absolutely not do the right thing. They will proceed in whatever manner is most financially beneficial.

              • RandomHookup says:

                And/or required by law.

              • Bakkster says:

                I’m asking from the other direction. This whole blog is about catching companies doing unethical things and trying to get them to do the right thing. But now we see that a majority of visitors wouldn’t do the right thing, even though they’d probably get upset if a company did the same thing to them. Why? Hypocrisy, or something else?

        • Straspey says:

          Exactly.

          If you gave the cashier a twenty, and she gave you change for a ten -

          Or, if you turned around to see somebody picking up and walking away with a ten dollar bill which just slipped out of your pocket -

          Or if you purchased two sweaters, but the package only contained one -

          Or if, after setting up your new account with the power company, your first bill included the three months that the house was empty, before you moved in -

          That would be a different story, wouldn’t it ? And, no doubt, we’d see stories here on Consumerist about all those scenarios:

          “Power company charges me for three months usage before I even lived in the house”

          “I buy two expensive sweaters from online seller – package only contains one.”

          And so on –

          Ultimately, it all depends which side of those equations you’re on – and if you’re on one side today, you’ll be on the other side some other day.

          This is not about “contracts” and “legal obligations” – it’s about ethics and simply doing the right thing. But for some people, getting away with a free sweater, or the extra few dollars in change from the larger bill, is what makes their day.

          • shepd says:

            Yeah, but pretty much all your examples are legally very unclear or actually just plain theft.

            Taking money that dropped from someone’s wallet is theft. Taking extra change from a cashier results in a frustrated contract and therefore is legally not a good idea. Keeping the extra sweater without letting the company know could be construed as theft by conversion. Not paying for power you are using (assuming you’re not generating it yourself) is utility theft.

            Turn it around and you have:

            — Money you dropped taken: Theft
            — Cashier gave you the wrong change: Not theft, but possibly frustrated contract
            — Not getting the second sweater: Breach of contract, eventually leading to theft if they refuse to refund your money or send you the other sweater
            — Power company billing you for power you did not use: Illegal billing practices

            There is nothing legally unclear about the money in a house. It’s yours, free and clear. As for morals, the only question is if there is a reason you are morally obliged to give the money back. The moral obligation ends once you have a reason that the other party doesn’t deserve the money back (house requires extensive undisclosed repairs, old owners do crazy stuff to you, old owners turn out to be deadbeats in some fashion, money would clearly get spent on drugs, previous owners are in jail, previous owners are super-mega rich, previous owners were landlords).

            If the person in front of you who dropped that $20 bill was Muammar Gaddafi, I wonder, would you be so quick to pick it up and give it back? Or would you just let it blow away in the wind (I’m not going to say keep it, that’s a crime and we’re not talking about becoming a criminal)?

    • stephent says:

      right but there is no legal contract with those people. If the new owner has an obligation to return the money then do the old owners have an obligation to pay to fix anything the new owners didn’t notice before. I would say not so why should his obligation be any different. He bought the house and its contents.

    • El_Fez says:

      No, yes, depends on the company and no.

    • Ratty says:

      Yes (have done it several times), Yes (have done it), Yes (have done it), Yes I would call them because that especially would bite you in the ass.

    • shepd says:

      In none of those cases do you hold a contract specifically stating that you get to keep anything found.

      In the case of buying a house, most contracts state that you get to keep anything left behind by the previous owners. Mine did. They actually came back 3 days later because they rushed out of the place due to their grandmother ending up in hospital during the move out. I let them take whatever they wanted, which actually was very little. I ended up getting to keep about $500 worth of stuff and I certainly don’t feel bad about it (and I wouldn’t have felt bad about keeping the rest of it either if they’d decided against picking it up–although we did ask them if they wanted any of it).

      Now, as for the moral implications, as with all such things, “it depends”. If you have a good reason to strongly dislike the former owners, or worse, they sold you a bum house, you can morally justify keeping the money, and the legal justification is already done.

      Assuming regular people, though: Y, Y, Y (only if they pay for the return shipping, so with most companies, I’d end up keeping it because their support staff would be too stupid to figure out how to send me a prepaid box), N (In fact, that’s how it works in my city–they city does not turn off service in the usual case, instead, they rely on you claiming it–that being said, the previous owners are SUPPOSED to tell the city to stop billing them, so the city would know exactly how much to make you pay).

      • Bakkster says:

        This must be the only Consumerist article where the presence of a contract absolves someone from being a good person. Just see any article about ETFs or overdraft fees or anything else. You’d think the same group that decries those acts as evil would be in favor of returning lost things to someone, contract be damned.

        The question wasn’t ‘can you do it legally’, it was ‘would you return it anyway’. Seems most people would rather be greedy than nice.

        • shepd says:

          The contract is pretty important, though, since it cuts both ways. You get to keep the house, bad or good. You get to keep the contents, garbage or not. Previous homeowners often leave a lot of crap the new homeowner gets to throw away. And, especially with a house old enough to find money stuffed in the walls of, there’s always repairs left for you.

          It’s as simple as the basis of the contract: You keep the good with the bad. If you want to donate the money back, go right ahead, but realize, it’s a donation. You’re not a bad person for choosing not to donate the money. You’re a good person if you choose to, unless you happen to be donating to a bad cause. In fact, legally, you *could* put the previous homeowners in an unusual situation of having to pay taxes on the donation, as it would now be income.

          I suppose you’d have to buy an older home to feel OK about it, since most older homes have troubles the previous owners don’t come clean about that it’s up to you to “discover”. In my case, they left me a leaky basement without saying anything about it (I’d be amazed if they really didn’t know about it). That’s the way it is with as-is purchases. Luckily it isn’t anywhere that’s finished, but since it will cost me a few thousand to fix properly, you can be damn sure I’d feel rightly justified in keeping $2,500 if I found it stuffed in the walls.

          Maybe it would be more obvious if applied to something people commonly buy used that is assumed to be broken. I also just bought a used car, the seller touts how great it is (of course). 2 weeks later I bring it to the mechanic because it is hard to start and stalls out. “Oh, that car, I looked at that a month ago. I don’t need to put it on the lift, it needs a catalytic converter. I already gave them a quote.” Guess what, I kept the $5 in change I found under the seats. I’d have kept up to $260 (what I paid for the broken part) in change if I’d found it, too.

          • Bakkster says:

            Trust me, I know how a new house goes. The short sale I bought had terrible wiring, 10 HOA violations (four of which existed when the last owner bought the house and they did nothing), a dead tree in the front yard (also one of the HOA violations present when the last owners moved in), etc. That didn’t stop us from returning some china of theirs we found in the cabinets.

            I agree with your assessment that a good person would return it, even though they are under no obligation. I guess my whole point is that this website is full of people wanting to obligate others to return things they lost, extend warranties, refund fees, etc because ‘it is the right thing to do’. Yet paradoxically, presumably these same people also say they would not ‘do the right thing’ in their own situations.

            Is it any wonder that companies try not to extend warranties, or refund overdraft fees, or return that item you left in a rental car/hotel room? Nope, they are no worse than all of us, it seems. That’s what I find odd.

    • annecat says:

      yes
      yes
      probably
      set up account

    • Bob says:

      These situations are not like the one in the article.

      I do give back incorrect change in my favor. I do return the $10 bill to a person who accidentally dropped it.

      I do NOT give back the extra sweater since the law is 100% clear that what you get in the mail is yours. Trying to give it back is very problematic and can cause you to be harassed by the store.

      And yes I do call the power company and have the utilities put in my name since doing otherwise may be against the law.

      Giving back the money to the previous owner(s), without proof that it is their’s, may be a violation of the verbage and intent of the closing contract. That would cause you possible unnecessary legal grief.

      Being “nice” shouldn’t cause you to get called into court for a tort or violation of a contract.

  15. tiredofit says:

    I don’t see why you call the former owners. You bought the old paint cans in the basement, the crap forgotten in the attack and the broken tools in the garage when you bought the house, so why not the money?

    I would call the cops, though, because hiding money in the walls indicates something hinky was going on. If those bills were from a robbery, they might have the serial numbers on file.

    • RandomHookup says:

      There was an attack? Did you buy this house in Iraq?

    • dakeypoo says:

      Call the police? Really? Good luck getting the money back when nobody claims it.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        There is something else that I am surprised no one has considered:

        If the money was buried in the walls, perhaps you don’t want to be caught in possession of it. Since there were other witnesses that were present during the discovery, perhaps the best thing here is to simply hand it over to the police. There’s no telling what sort of nefarious activity that money is associated with. It could be connected to some crime without a statute of limitations.

        • bwcbwc says:

          Or it could just be two old ladies who grew up during the great depression and didn’t trust the banks to keep their money safe. You know, just like we are now in the midst of the not-so-great depression.

          Though I have to admit that $50s and $100s make me wonder. Laundering drug money?

          • tiredofit says:

            They said the walls were plaster. That’s usually original to the building, which means the money is pretty old. Unless the reporter doesn’t know the difference between plaster and drywall.

            • econobiker says:

              “Unless the reporter doesn’t know the difference between plaster and drywall. “

              I am going with the reporter not knowing the difference. Most reporters are pretty unhandy now a days…

  16. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    We had this topic before – legally it’s yours.

  17. Hoss says:

    $2,500 isn’t substantial. $250,000 is substantial.

  18. dakeypoo says:

    This one is simple. Keep it. Buying the house means you bought the house, good or bad.

  19. LogNoggin says:

    MINE! Mine, mine, mine, mine…. ALL MINE!

  20. missy070203 says:

    it’s his along with all the property defects….

  21. Shmoodog says:

    The golden rule people, do I really need to say anymore? Its amazing how short sighted people can be – what if it was YOUR money someone else found? Is it so hard to think about that?

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      You nailed it. The doc was right – the money didn’t belong to him and he realized it. “Legally” it was his? Maybe, but I sure would have a hard time sleeping at night if I kept it.

      • zibby says:

        I’d keep it; people need to be taught a lesson about keeping money in walls and firms run by Jon Corzine.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Given that it was inside a wall, chances are that someone put it there instead of a bank account. The guy bought the house. That includes the walls, the issues, the lamps they left behind, and the money.

      I would’ve kept it. He bought the house. It’s his money.

      If I found $2500 on the street or in a wallet I’d try to find the owner, but not in a house I just purchased.

    • Marlin says:

      He did not find someone elses money, he found HIS money.

      When he bought the house the money was part of it. If he found bags of trash do you think the old owners should have to come clean it up as well. It was in the wall and he did not know about it.

    • jamar0303 says:

      After handing over untold hundreds of thousands for the house itself, yes, a little.

  22. HannahK says:

    There was a similar story posted recently about a man who returned $35,000 that he found in his new home. The children of the deceased former owner hadn’t known it was there. For some reason that seemed like the obvious “right” thing to do, yet I don’t think keeping the $2500 would make me feel too guilty. I guess it was the fact that $35,000 could have been the owner’s entire life savings, and it seemed tragic for his family never to know about it. $2500 is not chump change but it’s not life changing either.

  23. NumberSix says:

    What $2500? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  24. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    “There was no question in my mind that it wasn’t my money,” he explains.

    Then why did you give a few hundred of it away to the demo crew? I’m guessing his kneejerk reaction was to give them some money in case he kept the rest, so the crew wouldn’t really talk about it, lest it all be taken away.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Yup, hush money.

    • q`Tzal says:

      So they don’t show up to do extra demo work.

    • shepd says:

      He paid them for the hour and a half they spent digging it out for him, perhaps? And since it was found money, he didn’t feel the need to pay them bottom dollar for their work?

      It doesn’t have to be nefarious. It just has to be most likely. I’m going with “employment” instead of “scheming”.

  25. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Split it 50/50 with the workers. That being said, if I was a worker who discovered it I’d try to keep it and not tell the owner.

  26. caradrake says:

    I’d like to think that I would return it, but if I found cash in a newly purchased, it’d probably be very tempting to keep it and use it to make repairs on the house. I guess it would depend on how much cash it was, and what the person was like – if they did not disclose certain faults in the house, I’d be more likely to keep the money and apply it towards fixing those faults. If they were upfront and honest, I’d probably return it.

  27. MonkeyMonk says:

    When we bought our current house the previous owners left about $3,000 worth of furniture around the house and a $1,200 play set in the backyard. We kept what we wanted and sold off the rest. I’m not sure why this situation is different.

    When you buy a house you get the house and remaining contents.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Because they knew they were leaving it behind for you to deal with…the money was hidden in the walls, and the previous owners most likely forgot it was there.

    • Costner says:

      In the house I bought, I discovered a lot of personal military memorabilia from the former owner. He had died about a year or two before, and the woman I bought the house from had no idea the stuff was there (it was in the attic above the garage so she would never have thought to look).

      I tracked her down and returned it because it had sentimental value, but you can bet if I found a pile of $100s up there they would have been in my bank account faster than you can say FINDERS KEEPERS!

  28. clippy2.0 says:

    I wonder if that same doctor would pay for $2500′s worth of discovered damage for a house he sold. I mean, that’s part of buying a house. If the owners come looking, then ethics can come in; but I’m a fan of “screw em”

  29. proptart says:

    Clearly the sisters are related to George Bluth.

  30. DerangedKitsune says:

    I’m in the opposite situation; I found nothing but problems and junk (who uses a t-shirt and plastic bags to stuff holes in the wall before muddnig them over?) left behind by the previous owner in the house I’m working on.

    I can only WISH I found money!

  31. mbd says:

    > What Would You Do If You Found $2,500 In The House You Just Bought?

    Buy a 60″ flat screen tv.

  32. Costner says:

    Many homes have had numerous previous owners. I’m sure if you told the last owner about it they would say “oh yea I forgot all about that”, but in reality unless you can match dates on the money to the timeframe they were living there who really knows.

    I figure when you buy a house you get both the good and the bad. A month after buying the house if the water heater blows and you discover a hidden junction box packed full of knob and tube wiring that needs upgrading you can’t go back to the former owner and complain about it, so why would you go back to them for some other unknown discovery?

    Tough call really – but aside from personal family keepsakes etc I would probably have a hard time just handing it over.

  33. epor says:

    I would be more concerned if the previous owners of my house would also be honest if it wasn’t theirs.

    “You found money left in my old house… oh ya… that money… that I left there… yup. That’s mine. Oh ya, we hid that stuff everywhere… Did you find the closet stash… How about the basement stash… (Where else would someone hide money in a house…) The wall stash? AH, the wall stash! How could I have forgotten that!”

  34. epor says:

    I would be more concerned if the previous owners of my house would also be honest if it wasn’t theirs.

    “You found money left in my old house… oh ya… that money… that I left there… yup. That’s mine. Oh ya, we hid that stuff everywhere… Did you find the closet stash… How about the basement stash… (Where else would someone hide money in a house…) The wall stash? AH, the wall stash! How could I have forgotten that!”

  35. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I am typically a “goody goody” when it comes to situations where things are found or things that don’t belong to me and all of that, but when you buy a house you sign a contract that says everything in the house is yours once it’s bought.

    The money belonged to the dentist. It’s extremely nice and generous that he offered it to the previous owners, but what if it hadn’t been theirs? Who knows how long it had been hidden there.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      That’s basically my attitude. More than likely the previous owners “forgot” to tell you about a leaky pipe or something. And what if it wasn’t the owners but a guest or other family member. When you buy a house you basically inherit everything including things and problems/issues with the home.

      The only thing I’d really worry about was that cash drug money and would it’s gangster owners come looking for it. If I had concrete evidence of illegal activity I would turn it in to the police.

  36. ThinkingBrian says:

    Well, I would actually leave the money in the wall and call the local or state police and do what they tell me to do. If the money is clean (not stolen, you never know), I would keep it because I purchased the house and everything in it, unless the law said otherwise. But I wouldn’t go contacting the previous owners, contacting the police is the only way to go.

  37. georgi55 says:

    Maybe he found $5000 but said he “found” $2500….the amount paid to workers was hush money

  38. Bakkster says:

    My wife and I found some nice china as we were cleaning the cupboards in the house we got as a short sale a few months back. We would have liked keeping it, but that’s certainly not the ethical thing to do. The previous owner is coming by today to pick them up, and is glad to have them back.

  39. kathygnome says:

    Large wads of cash hidden in the walls? I think I’d have spent some of it having my home tested for drug residue and talk to the police department about any history the house has.

  40. q`Tzal says:

    Check the police records for criminal activity.
    Get a home use kit for detecting illicit drugs.

    When that all comes up clear: keep it.

  41. Andy S. says:

    Bought a house in 1995 from the original owner. Widow as the husband died several years prior. After renovations, I moved into the house. After six months of crappy water pressure, we decided to re-pipe with copper. Took the opportunity to replace the master bathroom vanity during the process. While cleaning out the drawers, I found a diamond ring. Checked with my newly moved in girlfriend who was certain it didn’t belong to her.

    Decided to call the previous owner who bought the house from the original builder. Had to belong to her and if it had any sentimental value, I sure didn’t want to keep it from her. Might have been her engagement ring for all I knew. I called her and vaguely mentioned finding a piece of jewelry in the house. I asked if she was missing anything. She unequivocally stated she wasn’t missing anything.

    We decided to sell it next time we went to the jewelry mart in Downtown Los Angeles.

    Two days later, I get a call from the woman’s son who claims his girlfriend lost her ring in his mother’s house some month’s ago. (uh huh.) I acted very happy that I was going to able to return the ring to its rightful owner. I need to verify that it’s the same ring. Does she have a photo of the ring?

    No. (Yeah. Right.)

    I asked for a description and got the most generic story possible. A yellow gold engagement ring. When pressed for details, nothing matched the ring we found. I wished him luck in finding her ring and said good bye. Never heard from him again. Best I could figure is he was angry at his mother for not claiming the ring even though it wasn’t hers and he decided to make up a story hoping I would fall for it.

  42. The Brad says:

    See the Piggy Bank from Ebay story. Keep the cash!

  43. ahecht says:

    My parents found a stash of old coins in the house they bought, which just about covered the cost of replacing the “pristine wood floor under the carpeting” that the previous owners had lied about.

  44. t0ast says:

    I kept a neat Art-Deco-style table lamp I found in the attic of the house I bought about 3 years ago. With a little cleaning and rewiring, it made for a nice addition to my living room. In cases like these, I’d probably keep whatever I found unless it was potentially of sentimental value or the previous owner specifically asked about it.

  45. brinks says:

    I’d call the former owners…

    and tell them I found $1500.

    • kobresia says:

      That’s the best idea– give them the wrong number or no number, make them tell YOU the amount, otherwise you’re just giving away cash you’re entitled to.

  46. SmokeyBacon says:

    Well, with our current house I would go with contact the authorities, because odds are it is stolen. The people that lived in the house before us were forced out by the HOA because the cops were constantly there because they were basically a family of crooks. We kept getting visits for about a year afterwards from the cops looking for them (usually at like 8 am on a Sunday which was lovely when we were sleeping) because they hadnt’ shown up for court apperances – eventually we just told them they had to stop because we always told them that they had moved, we didn’t know where and honestly we didn’t want to know where. Good thing for us they listened.

  47. El_Fez says:

    I’d like to think that I’m a big enough man to return a windfall like that, but I know that if I were in that situation, I’d get all Daffy Duck on that pile of money.

  48. TerpBE says:

    “The fellow was pulling the wall apart and the next thing I knew I saw a flutter of money…It was everywhere and it wasn’t just sitting there. It was in between the plaster and the boards so they had to hand pick it which took about an hour and a half.”

    Hmmm…if this were in $50 and $100 bills like he says, it would only be 25-50 bills. This description makes it sound like there was a lot more. I wonder if he decided to say it was only $2500 after realizing the IRS would be reading this article.

  49. EllenRose says:

    I would first check the dates and condition of the bills.
    (1) If the dates were before the previous owners had the place, I’d keep the money.
    (2) If the bills had significant numismatic value (unlikely in the circumstances) I’d do a lot of pondering.
    (3) If the dates indicate the money was squirreled away by the previous owners, I’d see if they’d accept a 50-50 split. If they wanted more than that, I’d reread the purchase contract. After that, things would go according to how well we got along.

  50. ClemsonEE says:

    Or the previous tenant found a whole bunch of money in the walls when they first moved it, thus saying “I thought we found it all”…

  51. MJDickPhoto says:

    ok, I thought it funny enough to post again.

    >>Remember, Mrs. Farmer. Whenever you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground belongs to you – whether it’s gold or oil… or Claude Musselman.— Funny Farm (1988)

  52. Gravitational Eddy says:

    At least it wasn’t snuff photos found in a heating vent like in Louisville a few years back. The young woman in the films was killed while the owner of the house filmed it. With no evidence of a crime, he walked, as well as did his accomplice (his girlfriend). The young woman was an “friend” of his girlfriend as I recall, and after a night of debauchery, they killed her and filmed it. After the investigations to her disapperance were closed, he sold the house and moved away. The new owners were demo’ing the house (unaware as it seems, that it was a murder house) and in the process of rebuilding the heating system, found photos and film in one of the vents.
    At the time, the police thought this was just a missing person situation, later they came to realize that this was a sick and twisted pair of individuals.
    Photographic evidence nailed those persons into death row cells.

    • Dalsnsetters says:

      If you are referring to the Tom Capano case, it didn’t quite go down like that.

      He went to trial and was found not guilty. About two years after that, the new owner found photos and keepsakes in a floor heating vent that had been covered by carpet. He turned the items over to the police but double jeopardy precluded Capano being tried and convicted with this new evidence.

      However, if you are not referring to the Capano case…what case is it?? I’d like to read up on it.

  53. ianmac47 says:

    Isn’t this the basis of First Year Law School property classes?

    • RandomHookup says:

      That’s kind of what I was getting from yesterday’s “bird shit in my soup” post. A good theoretical discussion on contracts and civil liability.

  54. atomix says:

    If I was a dentist, $2500 might not mean that much to me. If I were me, I’d keep it.

  55. kobresia says:

    If I found something valuable in, say, the old cupboard that was in my cabin, or anywhere else for that matter, it’s MINE. I bought the place and contents. That includes the sub-standard (downright incompetent!) construction in an addition that was put on 50 years ago, the asbestos-containing tile that they concealed under carpet and didn’t see fit to mention…and anything I happen to find in the house or land that has any value. I had a chance to inspect everything prior to closing, as they did to search for and remove anything of theirs that they wished to keep.

    I don’t care what it is or how valuable, if they didn’t take it prior to closing, it’s not theirs anymore, either from a legal or moral standpoint, just like none of the problems are their responsibility past that point either, unless methodical and egregious fraud was involved on their part in concealing something vital.

  56. MECmouse says:

    It’s IN the walls..keep it and these days, I doubt I’d report it to the IRS!

  57. damicatz says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_trove#United_States

    In most cases, the finder of a treasure is entitled to keep it.

  58. RandomHookup says:

    I actually did find a lot of money left by the previous owner, though in small bills scattered throughout the basement. I found it while I was cleaning out the basement, but because I bought the building with tenants living in it, the scumbag claimed it was his girlfriend’s money left (unsecured) in the basement. He was significantly full of shit (and he called the cops on me because I found this unsecured money and locked it up while figuring out what to do with it).

    I eventually evicted the girlfriend and him because she didn’t really appreciate the concept of paying rent.

  59. chaosgoddess46 says:

    Keep it and put it toward the mortgage.

  60. nikalseyn says:

    Come on now. He bought the house and contents. The money was part of the walls. Call it insulation if you want. Only someone—say a dentist—who already has alot of money would give it away like that.

  61. ShruggingGalt says:

    Well, this why there is always money in the banana stand.

  62. jon34511 says:

    For everyone saying they would call the police, what exactly would you want them to do? The police arent just some magical people you call anytime you have a problem. Call the police when theres a legitimate reason…like a crime.

  63. u1itn0w2day says:

    What puzzles me is that the money was found behind the plaster and in between boards. It sounds like they put in one location and over the years the money probably has shaken or trickled down behind the walls. Then the demo put more vibration and movement on the money moving it more.

    Still what could’ve been the original hiding place. I’m thinking an upper floor floor board or floor heat register?

  64. Halfabee says:

    Thirty years ago, I found a wallet in the parking lot of a movie theater after the midnight movies. It was stuffed with $400 (a large sum for 1981), credit cards and a drivers license, so I figured somebody had just cashed their paycheck (it was Friday night) and I turned it in to the box office in case the guy came looking for it. When I was thinking clearly the next morning I realized what an idiot I was. The theater employees could have pocketed the money and told the guy someone turned it in but there was no cash in it. I should have tracked the guy down myself, but he would have been worried sick about losing a weeks pay until I found him.

    As a kid in the early 70s, I was checking the coin return of a pay phone, as kids do, and noticed a cheap plastic change purse in the phone book slot. It had a few dollars in change in it and a card with a woman’s name and address on it. We called her and she came to our house to get it. She gave me $25 for being so honest.

  65. risc999 says:

    Sure, give the money to them. But be sure to ask for a cut of the profit they probably made selling me the house. Fair is fair.

    Of course I’d keep it. You purchase everything at once.

  66. samonela says:

    There’s always money in the Banana Stand.

  67. Coalpepper says:

    None of the above? I’d’ve researched a bit more, since the cash could’ve predated the previous owners. I wouldn’t be above sharing some of it, but not with someone just because they had the house before me.

  68. MarsVolta187 says:

    I would have done the same thing as if I found a busted water heater, or cracked foundations, or a leaking roof. It’s mine, and no one else’s.

  69. Lt. Coke says:

    I have a fair amount of debt; that $2500 would do a lot of good. But I’d still call the previous owner. You can’t trust the police to be honest about people’s property these days. Previous owner first, then newspaper ad, then police. Yes, buying the building technically means it’s my money, but since when did we become human beings who only do what they’re contractually obligated to do?

  70. ap0 says:

    You bought it. It’s yours. Consider it a $2500 discount on the house, or money to fix all the problems the house may have (or to save for the day when the problems arise).

    I can see why some people would feel guilty about it and want to give it back, but I’m not one of them.

  71. christador says:

    It’s really not a large enough amount to report. I would keep it; technically it would be mine anyway–I bought the house and all of the contents.

  72. Bob says:

    Woo hoo! Money to repair the crappy “should’ve been up to code but wasn’t” wiring, a failing hot water heater, and maybe enough to pump out a septic tank on a house that was listed as having a sewer connection! No, I’m not bitter in the least!

  73. gparlett says:

    Half of it goes into low load mutual funds and half into high growth potential tech stocks.

  74. cameronl says:

    I tried to give the soiled men’s underwear I found in the attic to the former owners, but they weren’t interested.

    /really did find soiled men’s underwear (gross)
    //Didn’t really contact former owner…

  75. econobiker says:

    A friend of the family bought a serious level fixer-up house (he is a repairman/contractor) from a gentleman’s estate. While we were all pitching and cleaning up the jungle-like property and cleaning out the horder-like contents of the attached garage – unused for 30+years except for storage- a box was found with $700 among the 15 year old + paperwork.

    Anyone guess where money to buy beer and pizza to feed all of his friends and relatives helping in the clean-up immediately came from?

  76. teamplur says:

    I don’t see how people are really gonna feel bad about keeping that money. If you hid money in a wall however many years ago, clearly it wasn’t something you really needed or were saving for anything important. It was extra cash stored for whatever crazy reason. If it was so insignificant that they managed to forget it was there, then I somehow don’t think it was a big loss for them.

    ok, here’s a scenario where i’m wrong i guess: grandpa saves money for kids/grandkids inheritance, grandpa never tells anyone it’s there, grandpa dies unexpectedly, money is forgotten, money is found after X owners later.
    ok so in a case like that, i guess it would be rather un-nice to keep it.

    Either way, I’ve got bills to pay. I’d keep it.

  77. BradenR says:

    None of the above Doctors without Borders could use that money.

  78. yosemitemtb says:

    The guy I bought my house from was such a jerk during the negotiations, I would have no problem keeping it.

  79. soj4life says:

    If this happened when we bought our current home, we would have kept the money. The windows needed to be replaced, we agreed on an escrow amount, it got halved at settlement. Along with that, somehow the previous owner owed more than what she agreed to for the price. In a year, she managed to add to the ltv on the house, even with putting money down and making payments.

    I think it matters about the situation.

  80. coffee100 says:

    “When you buy a house, whatever’s in the ground is yours, whether it’s gold, or oil, or Claude Musselman.”

  81. ktlnlb says:

    There’s always money in the banana stand.

  82. 4Real says:

    There was no mention of what dates were on the money was it new or old money??

  83. johnrhoward says:

    It is your money. You bought the house and everything in it. Having said that though, if you really felt like it wasn’t your money, why did you think it was ok to give some of it away?