We had found my client, an international recording artist, the perfect cabin up in the Soquel hills where he and his family could host small retreats, build a sound studio and plant organic gardens to the backdrop of the property’s panoramic ocean views—a true
paradise, just 5 minutes out of town!
Predictably, there was fierce competition for such a special property, and we felt fortunate indeed to be selected from multiple offers that included higher bids, with at least one other buyer who was willing to pay all cash. Happily the vision conveyed in our “love letter” prevailed with the seller, and it ended up being one of those special instances where they left money on the table to choose a sentimental favorite over simply taking the highest bid.
Once the magic settled and we got into the due diligence phase, we made multiple visits to determine the condition and likely costs of what it would take to upgrade the various components of the cabin and its various systems, including water supply. In the process of locating a suitable location for a new well, we observed some ambiguity in the location of the property lines that gave some cause for concern, as the apparent boundaries we observed onsite didn’t match up with what we were seeing on the available maps and aerial photographs.
People are often surprised to discover how property lines can be misinterpreted on a rural setting. In fact, it is quite common for fences, water and septic systems, even entire structures to be accidentally built on a neighbor’s property. This can result in contentious encroachment issues, so I recommended that my clients retain the services of local surveyor Olin Edmundson to establish with certainty where the property lines are for the cabin’s 1.97-acre parcel.
The cost of the survey ran a few thousand dollars, but turned out to be well worthwhile as the results were surprising: it turned out that the level back yard area where we had envisioned the gardens would go was only partially on the property, and the cabin’s water system could have encroached on a neighboring parcel. On the other hand, a peaceful knoll at the other side of the cabin, previously thought to belong to another neighbor, was actually over 100 feet inside the property, so there was some good news along with the bad.
Upon being informed of the discrepancy in the back property line, which had the impact of preventing a large portion of the usable land behind the cabin from being available to be built upon, the seller was kind enough to grant a sizeable credit towards the buyer’s closing costs, in spite of the fact that there was a back-up buyer who was still willing to pay more. Her decision was based on the principle of the matter that it was the right thing to do, and
turned what could have been an uncomfortable situation into a joyous ending. And after all that we had been through, once the truth was discovered and presented, it was reassuring to my faith in humanity to see such a level of good will maintained between everyone.
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