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gribley
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 17:37
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hi all,

I'm looking at a parcel in the Adirondacks and am concerned about the neighbors' use of the land. Unfortunately the owner doesn't seem aware or interested in the problem. I'd love any advice on how to pursue this issue...

It's a ~6 ac parcel within the Blue Line. My intention would be to build a little "hunting" cabin (I don't really hunt, but you know what I mean) on it over the next five or ten years as a fun project. The price is right and the plot is ok if not spectacular. The catch is that the neighbors are using part of the land: Behind their house they have a little clearing on "my" parcel with a couple of old cars, a dumpster, an old trailer. It is a little intrusive in a nice quiet wooded area.

This is probably just a misunderstanding. One part of "my" parcel juts a little bit, and it seems that the neighbors are probably just confused about that.

I've read all the deeds and I'm sure that I understand the property lines correctly. The neighbor, an ~85 yo woman who I think recently passed, signed the land over to her sons a few years ago, and that deed clearly indicates that I am reading the lines correctly. Of course, just because she signed it doesn't mean she or her sons know exactly where the true lines are.

The current owner of "my" parcel got the land in a divorce settlement, and neither she nor her listing agent will admit to knowing anything about anyone else using the land. However, it's very clear on the aerial photos and in person. But clearly the owner isn't going to do anything about it.

At this point I'm very interested in the parcel but I really don't want to step into a boundary dispute. I'm thinking of going up there next week and walking the land again. Should I knock on the neighbors' door? Send them a letter? Do I ask what they know about the situation, or tell them they're on the wrong property? If I can get them to move their stuff off the parcel, I think it's worth the asking price. But a big chunk of "my" parcel, including more than half the road frontage, is in the area they seem to be claiming. If that area is in dispute, the land is worth much, much less.

A note about adverse possession: I am not yet sure about the law in New York State. The neighbors have clearly been using the land in this way for at least 15 years (per the aerial photos). Some legal references say that NYS requires color of title, but paragraph 521 appears to allow adverse possession without a written claim of title ( http://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2006/real-property-actions-proceedings/idx_rpa0a 5.html ). Interestingly, the neighbor/owner signed a deed appointing her sons as TIC almost 10 years ago, and my interpretation of this would be that she thereby acknowledged the correct ownership of the parcel. All of this is sort of moot, though, because I don't want to, and can't afford to, get in a legal dispute with the neighbors.

I'm considering putting in a lowball (~60% of asking price) offer to see what happens, on the assumption that the boundary will never get resolved and I'll have to deal with the smaller parcel and less frontage. The best solution appears to be talking to the neighbors about it without starting a confrontation. Any thoughts on strategy? Thanks.

littlesalmon4
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 17:44 - Edited by: littlesalmon4
Reply 


Submit your offer conditional that the owner ensures the neighbor removes all of their stuff from the property before completion of the sale. Buy it and quickly build a big fence. Or don't sign up for all of the drama and look for different property.

gribley
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 18:07
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hmmm... I like the idea of a conditional offer. I think it still runs the risks of creating more drama by pissing off the neighbors. But it's possible. Thanks.

I am still looking for another property, but this one really does fit the bill, and there's precious little cheap land in the area, so I'm still looking for a solution.

KinAlberta
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 18:32
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I'd guess that as a condition, the agent would have an excuse to tactfully bring it up with the other owners. Or you can ask for some compensation in case you end up having to dispose of the vehicles, etc. yourself. I'd want to avoid the issues with that though (like finding bodies in the trunk, etc.)

Wendigolake
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 18:39
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Best thing to do in a case like this is to make the offer conditional on the current owner having a legal survey done. The surveyor will layout the boundary lines and their work will hold up in a court of law. If a survey is done before you buy, your new neighbors should not hold a grudge against you if they have to move anything back on to their own property. A survey is also a good idea if you ever plan to put up a fence after you purchase the property.

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 19:35 - Edited by: Julie2Oregon
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The part that jumps out at me is the junk cars, the dumpster, etc. Sure, you can legally hold up your rights and win on the points, but if you bought the property, your cabin and enjoyment of it will always be next to these folks and their property. You can enforce a boundary issue but you can't force them to live or behave a certain way.

So, do you WANT to have junked cars and such next to you? And are you prepared to go to court (or, at least, code enforcement) every time they dump junk close to your property line? If you can live with that and don't mind, proceed. If you do mind, move on to another property.

skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 19:47
Reply 


Wendiholake is bang on with having a legal survey done. The surveyors will do the appropriate title searches, research etc and then clearly mark the property lines and the survey drawings etc are filed in the registry office in conjunction with a good real estate lawyer. I would consider this a must before taking that plunge into ownership.

Kudzu
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 19:51
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Sounds like people I would like to avoid. Move on, bad neighbors are a curse.

morock
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 20:13
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Don't trust what you have been shown to be true. The realtor showed us our property based on maps he was given by the current owner. When we were signing the docs the map looked completely differerent, and we refused to sign. Check the boundaries with the county or local registry office first. Took over a year to get ours sorted out and many $k too.

Turned out the map was right and the municipality had it wrong but you have to get ALL the neighbours to sign off first.

gribley
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 20:31
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Wendigolake, the survey is a great idea, thanks, but in fact there was a survey done in 2000, and it definitely shows that I understand the property lines correctly. In fact, I am pretty sure (from the aerial photos) that the neighbors must have been infringing on the land around that time already. Come to think of it, it's even possible that the survey was done for this very reason... but that's pure speculation.

Could it be worth having the owner repeat the survey? That would at least raise the issue with the neighbors. In fact, perhaps I will try to contact the surveyor and see whether he knows anything about the situation.

Julie2Oregon, I totally agree about the junked trailer and stuff. But there's enough land (several acres) that it wouldn't be much of an issue for me where I'd like to build, and anyway you can hardly see that far through the woods. If relations with the neighbors are amicable, I'm not really worried about the aesthetics of that.

There's always the possibility that the neighbors just don't know the situation and will be gracious about it. That's what I'm still holding out hope for.

KinAlberta: bodies in the trunk! geez, talk about a worst-case scenario...

Thanks, this is all super helpful.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 20:52
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You need a current survey. Period. Paid for by the seller of the property you are interested in. When we were negotiating our purchase that was a part of the offer.

Then, if that survey does prove the neighbor is encroaching on, using a portion of the parcel being sold you probably need a lawyer to protect yourself and the money you want to spend.

Or look somewhere else.

A recent survey is mandatory for any rural property purchase as far as I am concerned.

neb
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 21:17 - Edited by: neb
Reply 


Well first the seller needs to have the survey or they will have to show you the pins for that boundary line. That is the sellers responsibility.

Then seller should notify the party and explain that they need to move there trailers etc. of off their property.

I can't imagine why they wouldn't do that.

Have you talked to the party that is using this land?

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 21:30
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In the county where my cabin is located, I can go to the county assessors office and view my property with boundary superimposed, its just like google earth, its powered by Microsoft's Silverligth. What county in NY are you in?

turkeyhunter
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 21:33
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Quoting: MtnDon
You need a current survey. Period. Paid for by the seller of the property



THIS!!!!

neb
Member
# Posted: 8 Mar 2016 21:35
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I will add one more comment. I have bought land that I couldn't get an easement. This easement was a total of about 600 feet of dirt road. I did the deal because I had the right and an easement to go through his crop land to get to mine. He knows that and I told him I wouldn't drive through his field to ruin his farming. So we agreed on that I can use the road anytime and things have worked out great. I really do have him under the barrel.

I also sold land and didn't have a survey done for the party buying the land. I showed them where in close proximity where the boundaries were and they excepted that. they later did the survey after they had bought the land from. I told them I wouldn't pay for a survey but had the paper work and plotted land with maps.

So here if there is no loan taken there doesn't have to be a survey. I have sold land bought land and I have just had an lawyer write a buy/sell agreement excluding/including what I wanted.

gribley
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 00:13
Reply 


toyota_mdt_tech: Yes, I can see the property lines on an aerial photo on county tax assessor's website. The survey is in the assessor's office; I'm not nearby but I hope to get up there next week and check it out.

A 2000 survey still sounds awfully recent to me... but I'll think about how to get the seller to redo that, and what the value of that would be.

neb, what I get from your examples is that I should try to have a conversation with the neighbors. I'm still not sure exactly how to start that conversation ("Say, did you know that that's not your property?"), but I'll see if I can do that next week.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 00:35
Reply 


If the survey is that recent and recorded with the county it should be good, IMO. I have seen three surveys for our property lines; one done the month we began the buying process and two from 30 and 60 years prior. There are differences with the latest one giving us a couple more feet on the west than the earlier surveys do.

And yes, that would be about how to handle it with the neighbor. State that you are looking at the property that is for sale and that the plat as recorded with the county indicates there is a misunderstanding about where the boundaries are. Show them the plat and walk the lines with them. See how that goes. There are lots of possible paths that could take; good, so-so, bad.... But at least you would know before laying down your cash.

turkeyhunter
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 06:47
Reply 


Quoting: neb
So here if there is no loan taken there doesn't have to be a survey. I have sold land bought land and I have just had an lawyer write a buy/sell agreement excluding/including what I wanted.


Neb~~I have done the same thing over the years...picked up camp / cabin tracts of property ( bought & sold) and sold a couple hunting / creek tracts.... I walked the boundary's and knew where the property line were 100% .....before I bought!!!
And I still looks for tracts to buy if I can turn a few bucks!!

BUT if I was buying I would make SURE all boundaries were MARKED....painted boundary marking/POL's ( points on line) etc...I have saw flagging tape that has been moved on property lines to suit the adjoining landowner.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 07:07
Reply 


Sadly, I have to say, this looks like it could be one of those "would have been Safer to juggle Hand Grenades with the pins pulled" situations. Having hostile neighbours who will likely feel slighted and hard done by... just not worth it.

That said...
- CONDITIONAL PURCHASE is a MUST ! Conditions that survey be provided & property lines be marked. Junk vehicles, materials etc be removed from property @ sellers expense.
- Survey is certainly #1 to clarify where the lines are.
- Title Insurance is cheap and can save a LOT of pain (dunno if that's avail at your locale)

This came from a Divorce Settlement and the woman is not likely interested in spending a penny on it to sell it. That would certainly affect the sale conditions BUT that is leverage to lower the price to compensate for that.

RichInTheUSA
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 07:45
Reply 


Very good thoughts here... I won't repeat what others said above... but will add a few more thoughts:

Typically if a person is getting a loan, then a survey is required. However, if not getting a loan then you don't *need* one... but highly recommended. The survey will show encroachments of buildings, but typically not cars/dumpsters.

I would also suggest walking the property to find the boundary pins, with a metal detector if necessary.

Good luck.

gribley
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 09:56
Reply 


MtnDon: Great, really helpful. You're right about how to approach the neighbor. I'll plan to do that next week and I'll just see how it goes.

Steve_S: Yes, I'm definitely planning to use these facts as leverage for a lower price.

RichInTheUSA: I'll walk the boundaries again, definitely, and now that I have the survey in hand it should be easier (I didn't have it last time I walked it). In fact, I think that the neighbors' "misunderstood" boundary line is posted, so that gives me another entry into the conversation with them.

Thanks all -- very helpful!

bobrok
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 10:09
Reply 


I used to draw property tax maps in NYS for a living. There is an "official" map in your county clerk's office showing the taxing boundaries of your parcel based on aerial photos and meets and bounds deed description.
It's free to look up, you might even get a free copy to take home.
This is not to say it's 100% accurate, but based on how my company did their job I'd bet it's pretty good.

neb
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 12:58 - Edited by: neb
Reply 


I think it may be a good idea to talk to them like you plan on doing. Sometimes things like this can be settled with a good talk and hopefully a trust between both parties.

That is why I asked you the question. I would hope that these people will understand and if it was the other way around they would want it the same way.

I bet it works out and I would have all the paper work, maps and such to show what you are talking about.

Keep us informed.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 13:06
Reply 


I looked at a 10 acre property on a cul-de-sac and there was trash, junk tractor, junk truck, refrigerators, etc. on the three adjoining properties and decided was not worth it. I bought the other 10 acre lot just down the road that had adjoining lots with no trash, just trees.

Thelar
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 13:55 - Edited by: Thelar
Reply 


I think Steve_S hit it on the nose.

-Conditional offer based on them clearing the junk.
-New survey
-Title insurance

You also want a new survey. Who's to say the previous owner didn't sell that piece to neighbors after the 2000 survey, or something wasn't recorded until after the 2000 survey. Purchase the title insurance. If a dispute come up you can use it to fund your legal expenses. Make sure before you close on the property you walk it and verify all conditions of your sale are fixed.

The other issue I would have is adverse possession. If a piece of property has been used by someone other than the owner for a number of years, the doctrine of adverse possession may apply. State laws vary with respect to time requirements; however, typically, the possession by the non-owner needs to be open, notorious, and under a claim of right. In some states, the non-owner must also pay the property taxes on the occupied land. A permissive use of property eliminates the ability to claim adverse possession.

It may be to good to pass up, but neighbors that have been there for decades can be persnickety about new people who come along upset the apple cart. Good luck.

RiverCabin
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 17:26
Reply 


Run, don't walk, away from this deal.

In a best case scenario you would end up with the property along with some pissed off neighbors who had been using the land as their makeshift junkyard for over a decade. What do you think would happen to your weekend cabin when you weren't there?

If you persist in pursuing this property, you absolutely need to walk the land yourself to ascertain the metes and bounds of the property. If the junkyard is on the property as you describe, I believe you would have a significant adverse possession problem.

Good Luck!

Wendigolake
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 18:26
Reply 


You should get a surveyor to mark the boundary again. He or she will check to make sure your bars are in the correct place and replace any that went missing. It is surprising how many times we had to reset bars that were moved after the fact, some quite a few feet. If the survey is old most banks will ask for a current survey before loaning money on a parcel of land. As it was mentioned in previous reply's, you never know if a piece of property was sold off and the survey was not updated. Also as mention previously, if you think the neighbors are a problem now, you should pass on this deal. They will probably be a pain to you also. One thing I have learned in my 55 years on this earth is that there is always another "good deal" to be found. Don't lose any sleep on this deal, turn it down and look for another deal that also works for you.

Littlecooner
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 19:07 - Edited by: Littlecooner
Reply 


This old guy here has made his living for the past 45 years in the land survey business. Mostly retired now, but going out in the morning to two jobs.

gribley RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN FROM THIS PROPERTY AND DEAL. IT CAN NOT EVERY BE A GREAT PLACE FOR A PART TIME HOME.

No more comment, you can not believe what I have witnessed in 45 years of this profession. There is a problem there and it will never be nice neighbors between you and those people who are encroaching on this property. Enough said, some of us like to sleep at night, you ever been shot at over a boundary dispute, well I have. And threaten a few times also. Find a nice place with good neighbors, this one is not for you, I can promise you that. These boundary disputes can take many dollars from your pocket and they could be the ones to file the suit. then you must may a lawyer to defend you. PLEASE RUN AWAY. FAST. Sometimes they solve the boundary dispute, they just take a gun and shoot you. problem over, in there mind

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 19:20
Reply 


Quoting: RiverCabin
In a best case scenario you would end up with the property along with some pissed off neighbors who had been using the land as their makeshift junkyard for over a decade. What do you think would happen to your weekend cabin when you weren't there?


Yep, this.

People living remotely have different reasons for and ideas of rural living. If they've been there and are established, then you're moving into their environment and you need to tread lightly. Sure, you may have the law on your side, technically speaking, but the law isn't going to be out there guarding your property, dealing with the rodent problem arising from the junk and rubbish, etc. Law enforcement in remote areas isn't what it is in the city or suburbs, either. It's stretched thin.

Driving around the area where my land is, there are people who have junk on their property. I know that county code enforcement tries to deal with it because when I was inquiring about a parcel I was interested in purchasing, the county guy looked it up on his computer and saw that there was some stuff near the property line and he'd been out there previously telling the folks to take care of it. Ooops! But I then knew it was an ongoing problem.

The lot I ended up buying is pristine. I'll be the first one on the lane building. That's awesome because I won't have to deal with history, entrenchment, or people feeling that I'm somehow encroaching on their lifestyle.

That's worth its weight in gold to me, frankly. Building and living remotely is tough enough without adding other problems into the equation.

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 9 Mar 2016 19:25
Reply 


Littlecooner
AMEN!

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