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Title Insurance, Land Surveys and Property Encroachment

Monday, March 8, 2021

Strong fences make good neighbors - or do they? When your neighbor’s fence is in your yard it can create a property dispute.

Title insurance is a vital component in the home buying process. Property encroachment is just one challenge it can help cover.

There are different types of encroachments that are possible on your property. They may come to light during the land survey or may happen after the sale.

Title insurance helps to protect you (the buyer), the seller, and the mortgage company if there is a problem.

What Is Property Encroachment?

Encroachment happens when a neighbor’s property is trespassing on your property. In other words, they may have built something over the property line or that hangs over your property. 

The encroachment may not bother you, but it can cause issues with the property sale. An encroachment creates an encumbrance affecting the buyer, seller, and neighbor.  

The owner of the structure doesn’t have to have the title to the property it is built on. For example, if a neighbor’s structure or driveway on your property is damaged, you may be liable. 

Additional structures on your property can also increase your insurance premiums. Property encroachments can create problems with the property title. 

A potential buyer may choose to offer less money or decide not to buy rather than deal with an encroachment.

Is a Property Survey Necessary?

A property survey is sometimes called a boundary survey. When a property owner plans on improvements, surveys help define the property line. Do not rely on established fences to help delineate property boundaries. These are not necessarily built directly on the property line.

boundary survey serves several purposes. 

One of the main reasons is to determine if there is a property encroachment. Surveys can also find easements. These are areas others are allowed access to your property. 

For example,  a driveway may pass across your property so a neighbor can access their home. Properties can also have utility easements. These allow the utility company to work on your property.  

Title Insurance Protection Against Property Defects

An encroachment is a defect in the title of the property.  If you had a property survey and find an encroachment, there are a couple of solutions you can try. 

Talk to the neighbor. They may be willing to remove what's on your property. Another option is to sell that part of the property to your neighbor. This may work if the structure is more permanent. 

Consult with your lender so accurate survey records are included with your title insurance. Lastly, if you and your neighbor cannot come to a fair agreement, going to court is an option. 

There are a variety of legal remedies available. However, it is a good idea to work with a real estate attorney to ensure you are well-represented.

Choose the Right Policy

A property survey and title insurance will help protect you from title defects or property encroachment that happened before you owned the home. If you discover something after the sale, you will not be responsible to pay to have it fixed.

You have two inclusive policies to choose from to help meet your needs. Contact us with any questions. We are happy to help you meet your specific needs.

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