The Danger When Buying Real Estate: Know Your Boundaries

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real estate boundariesBuying a new home or an investment property?  For whatever reason, you might already feel like a bit of a risk taker. Should you actually be concerned about danger when buying real estate? For starters, you should absolutely know your boundaries.

In this particular case, it’s not about knowing your limitations concerning price or concessions you’re willing to make concerning your real estate purchase. Instead, there’s the idea that you really need to understand property line boundaries.

Take this all too common example that happens each and every day in the world of real estate transactions.  A young couple finds their starter house in the Peterstown area of Elizabeth. The neighborhood has an old-world feel – with plenty of small mom and pop stores.

The newlyweds are excited and thrilled at the size of their backyard –fenced off on all sides. They can easily imagine entertaining friends and family in the years to come. One day, they may even put up a swimming pool.  Following the advice of their parents, the couple follows all the necessary steps in starting their home purchase.

Once the sales contract goes through attorney review, their real estate lawyer advises them on the next steps in the process.  At first, they question the need for a property survey.  As far as they’re concerned, it’s apparent that the fences mark off where the house’s property line starts and finishes.

As it turns out, the attorney isn’t the only one who thinks a land surveyor needs to look at the property. The mortgage company insists on an updated property survey before it will improve the loan. What happens next – clearly demonstrates the benefit of knowing boundaries.

Adverse Possession and Real Estate Boundaries

Truth be told, many a real estate deal dies after land surveyors produce their drawings.  The story here is only partially fictitious.  The fence line was nowhere near the property line. In fact, it was off by a good nine feet.  In the end, the young couple decided the home was just not worth the money they planned to invest.

However, there’s also the possibility that the transaction could still come to fruition.  How long ago was the fence erected?  It’s entirely possible that the seller may claim the additional land through a legal concept known as adverse possession.  In somewhere like Elizabeth, this would mean that the seller “open and notorious” continuously had use of the land for thirty years.  NJSA 2A: 14-30, et seq. provides further insight into what happens if property lines are debated in more rural areas.

All things considered, the issue might not even come to light without an updated property survey. Most standard real estate contracts afford sellers the opportunity to correct deficiencies. Although it might be easy enough to dismantle a chain link fence, that doesn’t change what the buyer perceived as part of ownership.

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The bottom line is that even the simplest of real estate transactions comes with its share of risks. Contact the Law Offices of Lawrence Centanni to secure legal advice concerning your new home purchase.

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