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Old 02-24-2021, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
7,773 posts, read 12,291,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
My question is I don't see how a neighbor's deed affects our property.
Is it about selling alcohol as you suggested???

If so, it probably doesn't affect you unless you intend to turn your house into a bar or set up a still in your back yard.
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Old 02-24-2021, 11:04 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in America
13,424 posts, read 12,287,318 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
My question is I don't see how a neighbor's deed affects our property.
That's a question for a real estate attorney, the town, and a possibly a judge. Ask 3 people you'll get at least 3 different answers.
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Old 02-24-2021, 12:56 PM
 
10,716 posts, read 11,595,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
If so, it probably doesn't affect you unless you intend to turn your house into a bar or set up a still in your back yard.
No, it is about gaining public access to a neighborhood with no public roads.
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Old 02-24-2021, 12:57 PM
 
6,366 posts, read 1,980,452 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Bear View Post
So, let me get this correctly.

OP has spent $100,000 on an attorney to clarify a simple deed question, and now the internet is going to provide a better answer for free?

Got it.
At this level of sunk cost, it's self-defeating to continue to think "you get what you pay for". Instead, OP would be best suited taking a different angle: "you don't always get what you pay for" and learn to cut his losses. A sad truth in any hired professional service. Sometimes they don't know any more than you do. What's the impact to OP that causes him to pursue this? Is he being sued by someone else? Was he given notice that he's forbidden from building, using, or otherwise enjoying the property by a neighbor or town board? Or is this just to get a clear answer on an unanswered question for peace of mind?

How much is this piece of property worth that it has justified $100k in legal fees thus far? Murder trials have been litigated for less. What has he gotten in return for these fees?
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:29 PM
 
10,716 posts, read 11,595,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddm2k View Post
How much is this piece of property worth that it has justified $100k in legal fees thus far? Murder trials have been litigated for less. What has he gotten in return for these fees?
The 13 homes were sold for $4,487,500 at a median sale dat of 9.5 years ago, but adjusting for inflation I suspect they are worth closer to $6 million. But their value is somewhat dependent on having reliable access.
The five I-beams on the bridge are rusted through to the point where the holes are over 1 foot wide. We could keep driving over the bridge and hope it doesn't collapse in our lifetimes or if it does collapse it happens with nobody on the bridge.

The total real estate taxes on the subdivision are $98,276 per year (school, county, municipal, fire), and it has been suggested that we could pay an extra $100,000 per year for 20 years and have a new bridge built. Of course, that will probably knock 33% off the home equity.

The image shows the property with two houses 1939-1941 along with some old farm buildings that have since been torn down. The roads are all dirt and gravel.


As I said earlier when a man purchased the second home closest to the bridge for $1, his deed specified that he must contribute to "maintaining a road" which presumably he thought meant putting down gravel periodically and hiring a steamroller. Now his deed is being used over 6 decades later to justify that a whole neighborhood replace a bridge at their own expense. A railroad (built 1867) owns land right up to the edge of a bridge,and we have been warned that if removing the bridge destabilizes the tracks that it could cost an extra million right there.

My points are:
1) The deed from 1941 is vague
2) I don't see how obligations in one man's deed are spread to neighbors.

I can see how obligations in someone's deed from 2 or 3 sales ago FOR THE SAME PROPERTY can be carried forward, even if the clause was not in the intermediate deeds.
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
8,730 posts, read 5,465,215 times
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When you say the man purchased the property for $1... Do you actually have proof of that, or are you relying on deed language that says "$1 and other valuable consideration"?

Please see here: https://www.limaohio.com/top-stories...show-a-1-price

Second, were the other parcels on the road that were built since, part of the land originally owned by the first?

Do all of the other homes on the other side of the creek rely on this road, or is there another feasible way in? If they rely on this road to access the property... then I'm afraid you all need to get together and split the cost of road maintenance, including maintaining a bridge over the creek, if that's the way you need to go. What other choice are you proposing? That the bridge for all should be maintained by only one house on it?

The remarkable thing to me about the situation is that you've gone this long without a road maintenance agreement for the road. You'd have a hard time finding financing for any of the homes currently on it, without one. This has come up on many properties we've handled.
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
37,167 posts, read 64,572,115 times
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At this point, I am going to propose....

Attorneys? $100,000? Whatever time frame? Private bridges and roads?
History?
This is going to get settled by a judge's opinion and ruling, not by attorney negotiation.
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Raleigh
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Given that it's a private road, has anyone seen if hiring it out yourselves and fixing it can be done for a heck of a lot less than what the county says it costs?
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:38 PM
 
10,716 posts, read 11,595,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
When you say the man purchased the property for $1... Do you actually have proof of that, or are you relying on deed language that says "$1 and other valuable consideration"?
The value of $1 is listed on five deeds

8. Jul. 1919 initial purchase of ~100 acres for $13,000 by an industrialist heir. A 2nd grandiose home is built on the property
29. Nov. 1930 entire ~100 acres with two homes purchased for $1 by a doctor after industrialist loses fortune on Wall St crash
18. Nov. 1941 one acre with the older home purchased for $1
13. Nov. 1950 the same one acre with the older home resold for $1
1. Apr. 1958 ~3/4 acre building lot deed to older daughter of doctor for $1
1. Apr. 1958 ~3/4 acre building lot deed to younger daughter of doctor for $1
30. Oct. 1964 - real estate attorney for project buys completed home and lot for $1 (after doctor dies)

I am familiar with $1 deeds for transfers in divorces, after deaths, or between family. I am not familiar with other $1 deeds. Perhaps these were to avoid real estate taxes if no mortgage was necessary. They may have been more common more than half a century ago.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
Second, were the other parcels on the road that were built since, part of the land originally owned by the first? Do all of the other homes on the other side of the creek rely on this road, or is there another feasible way in?
Eventually 150 building lots were developed from the ~100 acre plot that took almost half a century to build out. There were two public roads to get into the property, and a third entrance via private lane and the private bridge built by farmers sometimes in the 1890-1914 period.

For some nefarious reason that can only be speculated on, a connecting internal road was vacated so that a small number of homes can only enter via the private lane and private bridge. This was done in clear violation of state law which requires that all public roads be connected to other public roads. We are getting a flood of 50-150 million gallons of water per hour almost every year. Urban stream flooding is growing worse as more and more apartments and parking lots increase impervious land.

We can only speculate exactly why this road was abandoned.

There is an "emergency access road" which was paved by the township on a 25' right of way. For 11 years the township stationed police vehicles so that private automobiles would receive a $150 fine if they used the road. The only alternative for the limited number of homes was to use a bridge with giant holes in the supporting I-beams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
If they rely on this road to access the property... then I'm afraid you all need to get together and split the cost of road maintenance, including maintaining a bridge over the creek, if that's the way you need to go. What other choice are you proposing? That the bridge for all should be maintained by only one house on it?
What we would like is that the township rebuild the internal road that they abandoned (roughly 450') so that we can access the other two public roads that lead to major connecting streets. We would like the township to erect a barrier to prevent automobile access to the bridge, and possibly post it as not being open to pedestrians.

Tearing down the bridge would be an easier option if the 1867 railroad property did not abut the bridge. Since the bridge was built between 1890 and 1914 if we tear it down we are not sure precisely what would happen. The are is subject to extreme flooding which tears away at asphalt and could destablilize the railroad tracks.

We know that the township did not build or accept the bridge, but they made the decision to turn a connecting 25' right of way private lane into a 60' right of way. That is a 60' ROW road terminating in a 12' wide bridge that was decades ago. Then later they vacated the alternative means of access because of some unknown private interest.

Bottom line is that it is prudent to approve subdivisions with at least two means of public access. It is a legal requirement to have at least one means of public access. It is against state law and state department of transportation regulations to have a subdivision which contains a public road with ZERO means of public access. Private lanes (25' of right of way or less in townships) can do whatever the homeowners want.

Keep in mind that none of the residents had a clue when they bought their homes. They just assumed that the roads were being maintained by municipal authorities. Even the owner of the oldest home with the deed in question had a 500 word sentence in his deed which is extremely unclear. His lawyer reviewed the deed and didn't catch anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
The remarkable thing to me about the situation is that you've gone this long without a road maintenance agreement for the road. You'd have a hard time finding financing for any of the homes currently on it, without one. This has come up on many properties we've handled.
Remarkably 5 homes have been sold in the neighborhood in 5 years. To the best of my knowledge 4 of them had mortgages.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 02-24-2021 at 03:46 PM..
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:42 PM
 
622 posts, read 416,734 times
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Deeds are on land not on houses.

I agree with the township and most likely your lawyers(likely why you asked here not liking their answer). I actually have similar language in deeds in my neighborhood. Was originally 4 houses on 20 acres and now it's 13 houses on 20 acres. There is an original perpetual agreement between the four lots through the deed to share a private street built across the lots and to share maintenance costs. When the lots were further split the original chain continues. Otherwise you could get out of any deed restriction by subdividing into a new "clean" lot and then reincorporating the old lot into the new one. I'm sure there is language that also says it is on all heirs or assignees(a partial land owner of the original lot is an assignee)

See it's not agreements between houses, it's an agreement between land. Even if the land is divided the agreement stands unless everyone agrees to dissolve it.

Now an interesting next question is how it gets split. There is a good argument that it's 50/50 between the original agreement plots(so if there is one house on one original plot and ten on the other the one pays 50% and the others pay 5%). There is also a good argument it's split evenly between all the individual tracts. We've defaulted to even shares because not doing so is pretty much a guaranteed lawsuit between groups of rich people. In such a case the jury says "I'm missing work over a bunch of rich people arguing about more money than I'll ever have" and they'll punish all of you for it. The only winners are going to be the lawyers.

I'd also caution against reading anything into the $1 deed. It's normal practice lots of places to have that as price in the recorded documents. Keeps the taxman at bay in places without mandatory reporting. I'm sure the actual contract said something much different.

I'd point out that it sounds awfully like access is tied directly to agreeing to pay for maintenance so you might be really careful about trying to nullify anything. Might be you cost yourself all the value in your property unless you have a helicopter.

Since I also live in a neighborhood like yours I know the giant pain in the ass it is. Right this minute we are working on rebuilding our street to a modern spec. To say it's time consuming to do it by committee and mutual agreement is an understatement. Taken us two years to collect the money for a survey and basic engineering to be able to get a drainage permit and an actual good read on cost.

So my advice is if you are in a position to hand over a wad of cash and make it the townships problem to care for the road into the future you should take it. If they are willing to step in and require everyone to pay you should take that too. We have a name for haphazard subdivisions with bad drainage and streets in my part of the world. We call them colonias and the owners get so screwed over in the deals so bad they are illegal now. Developers of them get put in prison.

Just nut up and pay your share. That's gonna do more to improve your value than anything else especially lawyers.

Edit: on the public access issue that's a pretty easy answer for them. They'll say correctly that the public access is the point at which the private lane intersects the public road it connects to because the private owners of the lane have agreed by deed to share that access point.
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