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We are looking at a house that we like very much. But one thing worries us. When we asked about the property lines the selling agent said that the neighbors driveway was about 1 foot unto the property of the house we were looking at. "They have an easement" she said.
The way the property is laid out it wouldnt effect the use at all. (The driveway in question is sort of around the corner from the useable part of the yard). My question is whether this might be a problem later at resale. What precautions should be taken, if any? Thanks.
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I would take precautions, to keep your kids from sitting on that one foot of your property, lest the neibhbors run them over with a car.
The home we sold in 2002 had substantial easements. Our downslope fence-line and part of our backyard pool was on an undeveloped, trapped parcel owned by someone else. And the corner of our garage and driveway were on another undeveloped parcel, adjascent.
We just disclosed what we knew and it was no issue during the sale, except to warn the buyer that they should be careful to not remove their rear fence (or if they did make sure the downslope owner didn't know about it), so they didn't lose that easement.
Thanks Randy, that's a helpful example.
I did some reading and I think I understand the concept a bit better now.
Easements, rights of way and variances are quite common where I am. As long as all parties know and there is no distraction from the quiet use of the property there should be no problem at resale.
Thanks. I will check with the sellers and find out the details. I imagine that this might be spelled out in either the deed or in some town documents. Or could it just be oral?
It's a statuatory (maybe some case law too, IANAL) thing. If you enjoy quiet, unchallenged use of your neighbor's property for long enough then you get to continue doing so permanently, so long as nothing materially changes. This is why people have to put up fences when hikers start cutting through their property to get to trails. If they don't after a few years they'll have a permanent trail head in their side yard.
It should be in writing, if not in writing I would request for it to be prior to close. Easements should not cause any problems for future resale, specially one that seems to be very non instrusive like you describe.
My question to you is are surveys common practice in your area? A survey will define how much of the driveway is over the line and if there truly is an easement. Taking the agents word is just that. Next, a solution that you may or may not want to entertain that I have had to address on a property recently is getting an estimate on having that part of the driveway removed. That, depending on the cost to cure today, will save you for the resale of having this questioned by future buyers. I have dealt with buyers that would not buy a home with this issue due to insurance and liability. Actually lost a buyer over this issue for my listing. CJ
Agree with Chrissi. In NJ surveys are usualldone and normally required by lenders who would have a real problem if the neighbors driveway extends to your property. It seems unlikely that there is a easement. That is normally where another party is granted the right to pass over your property either to reach another piece of property or to hang utility wires over your property. It does not affect ownership merely the right to use a small piece of the property for a predetermined use.
Again in NJ this is a fairly common problem in the older towns where the houses are built close together and the 2 driveways abut. In fact some even have shared driveways where there is common ownership of the piece of land. Often a source of problems between neighbors a lot of people stay away as a result. In your case that is a problem in the making that you would be well advised to steer clear of unless the property is a STEAL.
Check with a RE lawyer. Obviously the rules are very very different on this state to state. Out West easements are often extremely common (due to the inaccuracy of older surveys in hilly communities) and differences in laws. All the easement, notorious use, adverse possession stuff is based on your state's laws.
Out here having a driveway on someone else's property will almost always be a complete non-issue, unless you just put it there recently. Even the, once it's done, a judge will decide "equity", which might well involve telling the infringed upon party they get nada and you get a judgemental easement.
I went through all this when a sneaky out of state (actually New York) developer came rolling in and tried to buy up and develop all the open, undeveloped parcels in our hillside neighborhood. He was basing his leverage on a bunch of New York-based perceptions of these kinds of laws, and he got a very unpleasant education in the differences in California law. (But he did make a bunch of owners of relatively worthless parcels quite happy since he bought them all at a premium).
YOu are the one GIVING the neighbor a right to use your propery, by letting them drive over it!
If this doesn't bother you, which it shouldn't, than don't worry... In fact, after sufficient time, most courts will just decide that part of the property belongs to the neighbor.
you DO NOT need anything in writing in this case, because you have no rights or interests to protect...
Now, to the realtors suggesting you rip up the neibhbors one foot of driveway: what a pair of jackalopes... This is what would have to be called retarded advice, as what would you gain? a ripped up driveway edge, and from your discription, no more usable property that you want anyways? PlUS some very very pissed off nieghbors who would hate you.
Do these two bozos actually advise peope on real estate???? sad!!!!!
Thus you should absolutely talk to a local, competent attorney about these issues if you want the real answer. So far, none of us commenting are (so far as I can tell).
If you get things about these kinds of issues wrong, it can cause a lot of trouble. And bad advice abounds. In the case I mentioned above, the out-of-state NY developer, after figuring out he'd screwed up assuming things about CA property laws, tried to trick all the downsloped neighbors into tearing down their rear fences -- the ones which encroached on his recently re-surveyed property lines.
Only one guy out of over 30 fell for it (the guy who'd never come to neighborhood meetings). See, in CA, if you remove the encroachment the rightful owner can "reset" the whole easement issue by putting up a barrier of their own. The morning after the poor guy took his backyard fence down (tricked into doing so because the owner verbally promised to build a brand new one for him after clearing some trees), he found indeed a brand new fence. A wire one, with a "No Tresspassing" sign on it, about 25 feet up into his former back yard.
For the rest of us, we told him if he so much as touched our fences we'd call the police for trespass and vandalizm. That was years ago, and all those fences are still there.
(Story told to emphasize the importance and value of getting real legal advice).
Take a quick read up on your locally aplicable laws on adverse possession, and tacking... (both apply here in az, but your mileage may vary). And, speak with a real estate attorney, who works in these issues specifically. You might consider simply "gifting" that sliver of land to your neighbor, or trade it for a case of wine or something, as this would leave you without any wierd issues to disclose, years from now when you decide to sell. (though it would leave you with some wierd property records)
Thanks everyone. I did take a recent survey to a real estate lawyer and he wasnt worried. He suggested to clear it up we could sell it or "gift" it to the neighbor. azrob, I like your "case of wine" idea. Also I haven't heard the word "jackalope" in a long time. Thanks.
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