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  • Writer's pictureKim McLaughlin

What’s at stake?

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

I've been in the Real Estate business for over 20 years and have witnessed many changes. One constant amongst these changes is the homeowners’ need to know exactly what they own—and don’t own—when it comes to their real estate investment.

As buyers, we worry about the types of appliances, the condition of the roof, the direction the home faces, whether the home has an extra room for an office, or if the windows are in good condition, or how the siding is holding up. One especially important issue relates to the land upon which one’s home is located.

What we fail to give much attention to are the dimensions and boundaries of the parcel of land upon which the home sits. It’s imperative to determine exactly what is being purchased: “What’s mine?” is as critical as “What’s not mine?”

As an example, one homeowner may come to the realization her neighbors’ lovely hedge seen from her kitchen window is located three feet onto her property. Worse yet, the hedge may have been in its location for nearly a decade, whereby adverse possession may arise. She’ll have to address the neighbors about this issue before she can do anything about it, yet many times that ship has sailed as the timing to bring it up has since expired. She’s then left to wonder, “Have I lost my minimum setback to enlarge my kitchen this Spring?”

Moreover, during these past ten years, the hedge has grown so tall it blocks her morning sunshine, but now it can’t be touched. Making matters worse, the neighbors are now planning to sell their home. She finds herself in a position whereby it’s imperative the issue be addressed before the sellers puts their home on the market.

What can you do? How is it best to approach this issue when purchasing or selling a home? You can easily google land and parcel surveying and find information for these questions. Fences, trees, additions, and setbacks for a possible addition are all important issues and should be dealt with before, not after the fact. This blog post is not about all the details of how to escape problems with boundaries lines, rather, it’s for information purposes to help you make educated decisions before you purchase or sell.

A logical question arises as to who pays for a survey: Buyer or seller? Responsibilities for arranging and paying are determined in the contract, whereby typically, the party who wants the survey, pays for it, although, there is no cast policy as to who pays. The critical matter is the tremendously important information presented prior to taking or delivering title to a property.

So, if the highest and best use of your property is at stake, it is being risked, and might be lost, or damaged. You should ensure the boundaries of your property are exactly what they should be, so if you run into a snag, it’s better to find out BEFORE you purchase or sell a home.

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