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Survey before you buy property

June 11, 2009
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By Steve Tytler

HeraldNet: Question: Over a year ago, I purchased a piece of property listed at 5.5 acres. The legal description has no measurements and says basically, this property lies from the road to the section line. I signed a form that says the real estate people are not responsible for the amount of acreage. The seller walked the property line with me, "as he knew it," and as it was presented to him when he purchased the same 5.5 acres. After the deal was done, I had it surveyed and discovered that I own only 3.5 acres. I hired a lawyer who has worked on the problem for a year and essentially all parties involved say they are not responsible for the 2-acre discrepancy. This ruins my plans for the property. What else can I do?

Answer: I'm afraid I can't give you much encouragement, but your unfortunate predicament does serve as a valuable lesson for property buyers who may find themselves in a similar situation.

I know this is easy to say in hindsight, but it is now obvious that you should have had the property surveyed before you closed the deal. Many real estate buyers are reluctant to pay for a survey because they are relatively expensive, but since you apparently had the money to pay for one after the sale closed I don't understand why you waited.

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