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What is an Encroachment?

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Dear Phyllis,

We purchased our La Crescenta home in 2007. The Realtor we used was a family friend who has since retired. We are planning on selling our home next Spring and met with two different Realtors. One mentioned that the assessor’s record of our lot size didn’t visually make sense. After investigating, it is believed that a previous owner put up a fence on the county’s property. They pushed our corner lot out to the end of the county’s easement for the possibility of future sidewalks. Apparently this is an encroachment. The real estate agent who figured this out came up with a much lower value of our home than the other Realtor. Can you explain in detail exactly what is an encroachment? Because of the valuation difference I believe we have actual damages and am wondering what course of action we should take.

Gipped

Dear Gipped,

The first thing you should do is contact the title insurance company to see if you have a claim. In my experience, they may tell you that since your home is worth more than it was twelve years ago you don’t have a loss and therefore no claim. (I am assuming that your home is currently worth more than what you paid in 2007).

An encroachment is when a property owner violates the property rights of a neighbor by building on or extending a structure (in your instance the fence) to the neighbor’s property. If you drive your neighborhood, you will likely see that other homeowner’s have encroached on the county’s property in a similar manner. It doesn’t make it right, but this is not unique to your home.

There is certainly enough blame to go around. I am assuming there were two real estate agents at the time of your purchase. One representing the seller and your Realtor friend representing you. Neither of them apparently noticed. Assuming you obtained a mortgage, it appears the appraiser wasn’t aware of the encroachment either. I am not sure if you have refinanced your mortgage but if so, subsequent appraisers also didn’t notice.

Of course, you will need to disclose that your fence is encroaching on county property to the future buyer. At some point I suggest you speak with a real estate attorney to determine your next course of action. The encroachment may eliminate some home buyers, but definitely not all of them.

Best of luck on your future sale. It’s a great time to be a La Crescenta home seller.

You may enjoy: The importance of a reconveyance

2 thoughts on “What is an Encroachment?

  1. Roger says:

    If there was ever a time to sell a home with “issues” now is it.

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