Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dog fence point of contention with neighbor.

I just heard from one of our customers this morning who wants to install a fence for their dog and is limited by an easement along one side of the lot.

We closed their purchase transaction in November of 2005. As usual we recommended they get a survey before closing. They opted not to. We searched title and disclosed an easement along the border of their lot. We sent them the title commitment for review two weeks before closing.

A survey was ordered a year AFTER closing in anticipation of the installation the dog fence. The surveyor correctly pointed out the easement which is 60 feet in length and 2 feet in width. They don’t want to lose that much space for their dog but hesitate putting the fence over the easement as the neighbor will object. Hmmmmmmm...

I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe but you really should get a survey BEFORE you buy real estate.

We go to great lengths to help consumers understand the importance of a survey. Here’s the survey disclosure we send when we process a title insurance order:


RE: 123 Test Street, Latrobe, PA 15650

The Closing Specialistsâ have been hired to perform the title insurance and closing services for this transaction on behalf of 1st National Bank of Testville, at your expense. As part of the title search review, we will determine whether or not a current updated property survey is required in order to resolve problems with the title and provide a clear title insurance policy. Typically, a current updated property survey is not required, so you may then decide whether or not to have a property survey performed on your behalf.

A current updated survey will confirm the boundaries of the property and show the location of all structures, driveways, etc. which may affect your use and enjoyment of the property. If you are purchasing property, obtaining a current updated survey prior to closing will confirm the actual real property, which you are about to purchase. We highly recommend that you obtain a current updated survey. Please indicate your preference below:

( ) I/We do not wish to have the property surveyed and understand that a property survey will not be performed unless THE CLOSING SPECIALISTSâ, LP requires it for purposes of obtaining a clear title policy. Further, I/We hereby hold THE CLOSING SPECIALISTSâ, LP, the mortgage lender and the real estate agent/broker, if any, harmless from any liability whatsoever as a result of my/our decision to forego a property survey.

( ) I/We do wish to have the property surveyed prior to closing and understand that it is our responsibility to order and pay for the survey.

Acknowledged and agreed to by: (signatures)

NOTE - If a survey is required to issue a title policy, we will contact you prior to closing. An explanation of the title issue will be provided. At that time, you can let us know how you want to handle it.

TCS does not order surveys, but we can help you find a surveyor. Let us know if we can help.

Here’s the language that accompanies the title insurance commitment:

We have processed the title insurance order for the real estate you are purchasing. This is a courtesy copy of our commitment to insure the title. You do not have to respond to this mailing.

As you review the commitment you will note in Schedule B, Section 1 that there are requirements to be met. Our staff here at The Closing Specialistsâ will clear these matters prior to closing. Schedule B, Section 2 contains exceptions to the title insurance coverage. Item 1 will be cleared by The Closing Specialistsâ for your closing. All other exceptions will appear in your title insurance policy. If you have decided to purchase the property without a current updated survey, please note that Item 2 is the standard exception for matters that might be disclosed by an accurate survey of the premises.

This title commitment will remain in effect until your new deed is recorded. At that time we will convert the commitment into an owner title insurance policy. Your policy along with the recorded deed to your new home will be mailed to you as soon as it is available from the courthouse.

We have advanced funds for abstract of title and lien letters on your behalf. There is a commitment cancellation fee for services rendered should you decide to cancel the title commitment before the owner title insurance policy is issued.

Should you want additional information or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 888-680-5177 x104.

The easement was noted twice in the title insurance commitment as follows:

\Right of way for an easement along the southerly boundary line to Frederick W. Wright, et al., as set forth in Deed Book 503, page 178.

\Right of way for an easement along the rear of line to Frederick W. Wright, et al., as set forth in Deed Book 622, page 186.

I realize this is a lot of boilerplate text but it’s important and shouldn’t be ignored. The moral of the story is that consumers have an obligation to pay attention to what we are telling them and shame on them if they don’t.

Be a smart consumer. Buy title insurance. Buy a survey. Buy a home inspection. And for heavens sake, READ the reports these professionals give you!

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