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property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 25, 2022 09:39PM
As everyone is well aware by now, I've been helping my sis in law this week. There's a wood shack - a halfway decent one - at the back of her property. Initially it was part of the listing but was specifically removed before sale. She would like a shed and a little more storage - it needs some work but it could be great for her.

The shed could be of no use to any other neighbors. The neighbor whom it apparently belongs to is an otherwise entirely unimproved lot. The owner is an LLC that appears to be owned by a local family without otherwise documented business interests. My wild guess is that its an investment property. I assume the owners of the lot aren't even familiar with the property line otherwise they might ask why she (and the previous owners) had been mowing a portion of it.

It looks like its part of her property and as best we can tell has always been treated like part of her property. We've come to realize that we likely had _no_idea_ where her rear property line sits. A little poking around on the county gis website and it appears like we might have been off by about 90 feet or so. Yeah, thats a lot. Her property is half an acre as listed by zillow and as measured on the county gis website. The additional portion is about a tenth of an acre.

Seems like a surveyor would cost about a grand and only have bad news.

Now I'm trying to put a number on buying that portion of the property. A good starting point would be figuring out how much they might have paid for it. I'm sure there would be transaction costs that might exceed the price of the property.

Anyway, if someone has navigated something like this please do share.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2022 09:40PM by mattkime.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Markintosh
Date: August 25, 2022 09:50PM
Would "adverse possession" laws apply in her case?

I am not a lawyer but it seem like this idea has come up in a mystery novel or two.

[www.law.cornell.edu]



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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 25, 2022 10:08PM
hire the surveyor. it's the only thing that a county or town or city commission (department, etc) will accept as the true boundary lines. if you don't have that, it's just conjecture, even if you do get a super long tape and start to measure where you "think" the bounds are. totally useless, in other words. one can only purchase what one does not already own, and it sounds like she has no idea about the bounds.

if it's any help, it may be possible to split the cost of the surveyor with the potential seller, but they could then just roll that cost into the purchase price of the land.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: August 25, 2022 10:12PM
She might have a small standing if it has been like that for 20 years.

What do the plot outlines look like? If the neighbor's land looks like a nice rectangular shape, and the chunk the SIL wants would change that, they may have an issue with plans they have already decided on.



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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: August 25, 2022 10:14PM
In theory there should be metal rods buried in the corners on the property lines. If you have a metal detector you should be able to find them and then out a wooden stake there and run some string between the stakes to get a good idea of the lines. If you do end up buying the adjacent land you will definitely want to get an official survey done.

Another thing to think about is that on city lots they may not have enough land to be able to sell you any. Many times there are ordinances and rules on lot size.



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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: August 25, 2022 10:26PM
Definitely check with a lawyer about "adverse possession." Basically, while it sounds crazy, if you've been using real property as if it were yours for long enough, and it's unchallenged by the owner, you may own it.

What state are we talking about?
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: GGD
Date: August 25, 2022 10:57PM
Quote
anonymouse1
Definitely check with a lawyer about "adverse possession." Basically, while it sounds crazy, if you've been using real property as if it were yours for long enough, and it's unchallenged by the owner, you may own it.

What state are we talking about?

How does past property taxes work in those cases if you've been using a piece of land for years but not paying the property tax for it.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Speedy
Date: August 25, 2022 10:59PM
Get a survey done. The marker is probably buried so the surveyor will expose it but you’ll need to mark it with a stake or three.

[www.fractracker.org]



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 25, 2022 11:22PM
Quote
GGD
Quote
anonymouse1
Definitely check with a lawyer about "adverse possession." Basically, while it sounds crazy, if you've been using real property as if it were yours for long enough, and it's unchallenged by the owner, you may own it.

What state are we talking about?

How does past property taxes work in those cases if you've been using a piece of land for years but not paying the property tax for it.

it does not, you are correct. many, many points have to be proven for this to even be contemplated by the courts. but, this is not the gist of the question here, so I won't editorialize.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Diana
Date: August 25, 2022 11:59PM
Get the survey done. If there are metal stakes present, they’re probably quite rusted away, making it difficult to find using a metal detector. Additionally they could be buried quite deep, or some time in the past they may have been dug up. You never know. Any map you have will be going on what *someone* thinks is right and can be off a significant amount.

As an example, my home sits on an acre of land. In the last year, the city has begun to move forward on widening the road to the east of my house. During this time, the surveyor came out and marked the property. It turns out that the original survey done back in the 1960s was “off” a bit and we lost some in the new survey. Yes, we’ve been paying property taxes on the land, but it makes no difference. Yes, it’s been that way for 50 years, makes no difference. We might be able to fight it with a lawyer, but the amount we lost isn’t enough to make it worth it. Increased noise? No, they tested the noise levels for a few days and found it wasn’t bad and so they estimate the increase in traffic should be fine.

Yeppers, the state is saying that they need to put a loop around Oklahoma City on the south side. That will fall about a block, maybe two, north of my house.

It’s about time to move.

Sorry. Went off on a tangent. Back to your regular programming.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: testcase
Date: August 26, 2022 12:25AM
Has a Title Search ever been performed? If so, at that time a legal record would have been generated before Title Insurance would have been granted. A local realtor, bank loan officer or Tax Assessor should be able to advise you how to check Title Insurance records. Otherwise, a surveyor would likely be your best course of action. NOTE: some high schools have surveying classes. If you’re lucky, there might be such a program at a nearby school and, the instructor might be able to survey the property as a class project giving students some real life experience.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Forrest
Date: August 26, 2022 06:11AM
A survey seems prudent. If she is planning to add a shed, the town would probably require a survey to insure the setback requirement is met.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: DP
Date: August 26, 2022 06:34AM
Don't even think about it-get it surveyed before you do anything else!





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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: vicrock
Date: August 26, 2022 07:16AM
Agree to look at adverse posession.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 26, 2022 07:39AM
I don't see much of a point in getting a survey done, its not going to have any good news for us. As best I can tell, there's an adverse possession case to be made here. She should continue caring for the land without making a large investment in it. This is the back corner of the neighboring lot which has been untouched - and unmarked - for quite a long time (decades?). At some point in the future she could attempt to rectify the title to the land but for multiple reasons that doesn't make sense right now. Obviously she takes on the risk that the neighbor shows up and claims whats theirs.

The shed is noted on the property taxes which goes to show that the person noting improvements on the land isn't the same person defining the boundaries of the land.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2022 07:42AM by mattkime.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Acer
Date: August 26, 2022 08:13AM
Quote
mattkime
I don't see much of a point in getting a survey done, its not going to have any good news for us. As best I can tell, there's an adverse possession case to be made here. She should continue caring for the land without making a large investment in it. This is the back corner of the neighboring lot which has been untouched - and unmarked - for quite a long time (decades?). At some point in the future she could attempt to rectify the title to the land but for multiple reasons that doesn't make sense right now. Obviously she takes on the risk that the neighbor shows up and claims whats theirs.

The shed is noted on the property taxes which goes to show that the person noting improvements on the land isn't the same person defining the boundaries of the land.

Did the shed have an actual assessed value? If so, I am I right in understanding the prior owner of your sister's property was paying tax on the shed all these years--and may have even put it up, uncontested? That sounds like strong evidence for adverse possession if I were making the ruling, but I am not.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2022 08:14AM by Acer.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: August 26, 2022 08:34AM
Does she mostly just want the shed?

If so, & it has been on the tax rolls of the property she bought I'd just have it moved on to her property.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Janit
Date: August 26, 2022 09:24AM
Why was the shed removed from the listing?
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 26, 2022 09:40AM
We are all just "borrowing" land, correct?

I'm not understanding the property tax thing: is the structure that she believes is hers taxed to her property? Is it taxed at all?

A to adverse possession, it's mostly internet bogeyman, as an urban legend (maybe more country legend). Would it be worth spending thousands (possibly many, many thousands) on getting a piece of property through adverse title that may be worth less to simply purchase outright?
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Speedy
Date: August 26, 2022 09:55AM
I’m not a lawyer but I play one on the forum. IIRC, adverse possession only applies when the person occupies your property against your wishes, meaning you demand they vacate. Obvious cases of long term possession but not adverse is when you rent property. But a mistaken occupation is also not adverse. Nor is undeveloped land you may own some distance away that you never visit and somebody moves a trailer on it and lives there unbeknownst to you for a couple of decades. Once you order them to vacate the clock starts ticking and adverse possession comes into play only if you don’t manage to evict them. Or another example is when there is a long running dispute about a fence line that isn’t resolved within the time limit.

Our lot lines were once thought to be different than actual. My neighbor even put his sprinkler system some 15’ into my property. It was only discovered when he went to build a garage and wanted it set back exactly to the allowed limit and had a survey done. I found out when I saw a sprinkler company pull up his sprinkler lines and I asked my neighbor about it. So I gained some land there as well as some trees he had planted a decade and a half earlier. But then I lost some to my neighbor on the other side of my lot and he lost some on the far side of his lot. It ended there because that next lot was a corner lot. No adverse possession, just a mistake carried across three lots and amicably resolved. Unfortunately we did not stake the lot lines and I couldn’t locate the cast iron marker under 6” of black dirt so when my wife decided we needed a sprinkler system we had to hire a survey company ($600) for twenty minutes work plus mobilization. We now have one stake shared by four neighbors in consecutive lots. I should pound in a more permanent steel stake rather than the store-bought driveway marker light weight stake with a reflector on top.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: JoeH
Date: August 26, 2022 10:18AM
All of this talk of adverse possession is at best theoretical. Whether it applies at all will depend on which state the property is in, and even then it may depend on how the property was registered in the first place. If concerned about it at all, talk with a local lawyer familiar with local property law.

People also talk about iron stakes being buried as markers. That practice is also highly variable by place and time. Locally they didn't do that 50-100 years ago. Pins usually were rough finished square stone posts buried with the top 4-6" exposed. Often only placed at the corner properties on a street. Though a sidewalk rebuild on my street a few years ago dug up the remnant piece of the pin that used to be on the line between my property and a neighbor. A tree had grown there for about 100 years, the piece showed up when the contractor dug out the old sidewalk to put in forms for the concrete.

So get the survey done.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 26, 2022 10:20AM
I don't know the legal term (or if Adverse Possession also encompasses this sort of case), but there is another example...
If you are using a portion of someone elses property, and they do NOT object, and that use goes on for "x" years, and only after "x" years does the owner object, and it can be shown the owner never objected, the land actually becomes yours.
I'm fuzzy on the details, but, locally, a right-of-way to someones property was taken this way. Property owner had been allowing, without comment, a roadway through the edge of their property where no deeded right of way existed... After 25-30 years, the new owner of that property objected to the right of way... owner of the property served by the road sued, and the court granted them a deeded right of way based on the 25-30 years they'd been using it without any objection of the property owner.

Quote
Speedy
I’m not a lawyer but I play one on the forum. IIRC, adverse possession only applies when the person occupies your property against your wishes, meaning you demand they vacate. Obvious cases of long term possession but not adverse is when you rent property. But a mistaken occupation is also not adverse. Nor is undeveloped land you may own some distance away that you never visit and somebody moves a trailer on it and lives there unbeknownst to you for a couple of decades. Once you order them to vacate the clock starts ticking and adverse possession comes into play only if you don’t manage to evict them. Or another example is when there is a long running dispute about a fence line that isn’t resolved within the time limit.

Our lot lines were once thought to be different than actual. My neighbor even put his sprinkler system some 15’ into my property. It was only discovered when he went to build a garage and wanted it set back exactly to the allowed limit and had a survey done. I found out when I saw a sprinkler company pull up his sprinkler lines and I asked my neighbor about it. So I gained some land there as well as some trees he had planted a decade and a half earlier. But then I lost some to my neighbor on the other side of my lot and he lost some on the far side of his lot. It ended there because that next lot was a corner lot. No adverse possession, just a mistake carried across three lots and amicably resolved. Unfortunately we did not stake the lot lines and I couldn’t locate the cast iron marker under 6” of black dirt so when my wife decided we needed a sprinkler system we had to hire a survey company ($600) for twenty minutes work plus mobilization. We now have one stake shared by four neighbors in consecutive lots. I should pound in a more permanent steel stake rather than the store-bought driveway marker light weight stake with a reflector on top.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 26, 2022 10:23AM
Any claim of Adverse Possession will REQUIRE a survey...
Perhaps at this time, a survey would only be a negative, but, if you want to claim that property, or buy that property, in either case, a survey is going to be required.

If it's a case of letting sleeping dogs lie, so be it... but, one day, that survey is going to be needed.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: August 26, 2022 11:08AM
....is it a Caddy....Shack.....??



_____________________________________

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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 26, 2022 11:09AM
the land actually becomes yours

Sorry, this does not just happen, and is where a lot of the "internet legend" comes into play. If that were truly the case, do you think people would obey lot lines and boundaries any longer? Yes, there a FEW cases where this has occurred, but almost never is it successful. A local case where there was a lot used for decades upon decades by the neighbor who tried to claim adverse possession when the lot came up for sale. He could not prove that he thought the lot was his, although his family had used it for at least a couple of generations, and he lost in court, after considerable expense. It is an extremely, extremely rare occurrence.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 26, 2022 01:05PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
Sorry, this does not just happen, and is where a lot of the "internet legend" comes into play. If that were truly the case, do you think people would obey lot lines and boundaries any longer? Yes, there a FEW cases where this has occurred, but almost never is it successful. A local case where there was a lot used for decades upon decades by the neighbor who tried to claim adverse possession when the lot came up for sale. He could not prove that he thought the lot was his, although his family had used it for at least a couple of generations, and he lost in court, after considerable expense. It is an extremely, extremely rare occurrence.

Without more information is not really possible to make meaning of that example. Further, the law differs a bit across the country.

I'm concerned with North Carolina law. It appears to be quite clear - 20 years usage or 7 years with 'color of title' and its yours. Of course I'm not a lawyer but this is the plain wording of the statue.

What is at risk if she continues to use the land? Basically nothing.

The shed is noted as an improvement on her land but does not contribute to the taxes owed.

Its certainly true that it would potentially be easier and cheaper to simply pay for the land. Settling on a price would be interesting. It looks like the 2.5 acre lot next door was purchased for $100k in 2016.



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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: JoeH
Date: August 26, 2022 01:41PM
Quote
mattkime
I'm concerned with North Carolina law. It appears to be quite clear - 20 years usage or 7 years with 'color of title' and its yours. Of course I'm not a lawyer but this is the plain wording of the statue.

Plain wording of the statute is one thing, more important is how the courts have interpreted that wording and whatever legislative intent is on record. What you see as "quite clear" can be extremely different in practice. If you ever want to consider this approach, only do so after consulting with an attorney specializing in that area of law and area of the state. The reality is that even in states where such statutes are on the books, adverse possession cases rarely succeed in gaining ownership. Even in the case Paul F. mentions what was obtained was a permanent right of way on the section of property, not ownership of that section.

You seem to be doing your best to not take the advice to get a survey, and consult with a lawyer. You may or may not have applied the information on the property boundaries correctly. If you were going to approach the owners of the other property to purchase a section you don't have any idea if that will be useful or possible.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2022 01:42PM by JoeH.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 26, 2022 01:54PM
>You seem to be doing your best to not take the advice to get a survey, and consult with a lawyer.

My sis in law has about $10k in the bank after buying the house. She's not going to whittle that down for this purpose at this point. Yeah, she's on a shoestring budget.

I think that you're right that in the event that an adverse possession case has a near zero chance of succeeding that she might respond to the situation a bit differently.

>If you were going to approach the owners of the other property to purchase a section you don't have any idea if that will be useful or possible.

Also true.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2022 01:55PM by mattkime.
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 26, 2022 03:03PM
what was obtained was a permanent right of way on the section of property, not ownership of that section

This is a point where I think most of the confusion lies. Defining an easement across property versus ownership of said property.

Easements are granted "fairly" frequently (not really, but in comparison to transfer of title) where the hardship is access to property owned by those seeking the easement. There are all manner of easements: underground, air rights, surface, and many combinations and permutations. This is not uncommon where lots were platted to old stone walls and such, and not to any more sophisticated thought about future public rights of way. The "servient" remains the sole owner the property under which the easement lay, but cannot change it to impede the easement grantee. The owner can absolutely still sell his/her property, but that right-of-way carries over to the new owner and all future owners (unless legally abrogated).
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: John B.
Date: August 26, 2022 03:45PM
If she wants the shed, and none of the other neighbors have/make a claim on it...just drag the shed onto her known property. Is it worth the cost of surveying, negotiating, subdividing, and purchasing a stripe of land over a shed that needs work?

-edited to add, before someone smacks me down- I read "shack" or "shed" as a relatively small self contained building. If this is a pole barn on a permanent foundation, it's a whole other animal.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2022 03:48PM by John B..
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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: mattkime
Date: August 26, 2022 03:52PM
Moving the shed would be interesting, I think it’s about 10x12 ft of well weathered wood.



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Re: property lines - you'd expect they'd be more obvious.
Posted by: Maddog
Date: August 29, 2022 04:37PM
I vote, move the shed. Seems easiest.
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