By Kay Wilson-Bolton
March 14, 2007
In most modern neighborhoods, identifying property corners is not significant when property lines are consistently marked by walls and fences. The question is significant when the property lines blur with open spaces between lots, and Ventura County still has many homes with large lots with no man-made barriers separating them
There was a time when boundaries were marked by streams, rocks and trees. This worked until those monuments and markers moved.
With encroachments comes the necessity for resolution for a variety of reasons. It is impossible to get title insurance, land values can be marginalized and disputes can arise when plans for expansion are initiated.
The irony of such discoveries that it is possible for properties to be sold and re-sold without knowing that encroachments exist.
This is when surveys are helpful. However, a recent lesson revealed that even a survey might not be enough.
One surveyor discovered a possible encroachment while surveying for corners.
While the contract called for the buyer to remove all contingencies, including inspections, review and approval of reports and all the material the seller provided, the buyer called for additional research in the form of an ALTA survey. This survey revealed that a new room addition, fully permitted, encroached five feet onto the neighbor’s property.
The neighbor graciously offered to participate in granting 20’ through a lot line adjustment and with closing only a week away, the wheels began to turn out legal documents which included an agreement for holdback deposits, an easement regarding encroachments and another agreement for granting the lot line adjustment. Such legal documents required the review of numerous parties and their attorneys.
The day before closing, the agreements remained unsigned, the loan lock expired which meant an increase in the borrowers interest rate, and the buyer cancelled the transaction—a tragic ending to weeks of work and anticipation.
The lesson ahead is to identify property lines in advance of sale and for everyone involved to carefully answer the question about “where are they?” It is okay to not know and there are numerous way to find out.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and CENTURY 21 Ability. She brings a regional perspective to local issues. She can be reached at 805.340.5025. Her website is http://www.readysetkay.com