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Old 02-24-2021, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
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.
Almost ALL deeds have a nominal recitation amount on them. Including ours when we bought our home.

Did you read the link I posted to you?

"Almost every deed includes a sentence in the first paragraph that reads substantially as follows, “For one dollar and other good and valuable consideration.” Sometimes, the number is $10, and sometimes, the sequence of the words is slightly different. However, such a statement (we can call that statement the “one-dollar phrase”) appears in almost every real estate deed, whether the real estate was a gift or whether it was sold for $1 million."


I only post this because I think the amount on the deed is a non-issue and is an unnecessary distraction for what you're trying to achieve. If you have already spent all kinds of money on legal research, I'm surprised this hasn't been explained already by better scholars than I, who you might believe on this.
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
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.
In many areas it used to be very common to just put $1 on the Deed, sometimes along with the phrase "and other valuable consideration'; sometimes not. Between family members, $1 was often used when no payment was actually made. Nowadays most Deeds, at least in my area, need to show the actual payment being made so that the the transfer tax can be calculated. There's a form that one can file in Michigan which can avoid the sales price from being shown on the Deed, but it's pretty meaningless because it's easy to calculate the purchase price since the transfer tax is a matter of public record.
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Old 02-24-2021, 05:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
I only post this because I think the amount on the deed is a non-issue and is an unnecessary distraction for what you're trying to achieve. If you have already spent all kinds of money on legal research, I'm surprised this hasn't been explained already by better scholars than I, who you might believe on this.
I mentioned the $1 on the deed in 1941 because I don't know the real value of the house. However, it was an unoccupied farm house for decades. It was not a mansion.

Someone who owns a mansion might reasonably be expected to pay for massive repairs for a bridge. The rich are happily willing to pay for privacy.

The clause in the deed states:

SUBJECT, HOWEVER, TO THE PAYMENT BY THE GRANTEES HEREIN AND THEIR HEIRS AND ASSIGNS OF THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING IN A GOOD CONDITION AND STATE OF REPAIR SAID RIGHT OF WAY OR PRIVATE ROAD,

If this was modern deed that statement would be much more explicit. Does it apply to routine maintenance or to structural reconstruction of a bridge that could cost more than the purchase price of the home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
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.
The difference between your situation and mine is that all the homeowners probably knew what they were buying into. Not one single homeowner in our neighborhood knew the situation. A hurricane caused a flood that had not been seen for half a century. We asked the township to inspect the bridge for damage as several trees had crashed into the structure.

They discovered there was no flood damage, but no routine maintenance had been done for 90 years and the steel I-beams were now completely rusted through. They solicited bids to pave an emergency 25' right of way and they took the high bid (33% more) because the low bidder could not begin work for 4 weeks. That is how frightened they were to drive the township trucks into the neighborhood.

After they laid down asphalt on the emergency road, they sent us a letter to tell us we had to drive over the bridge until we replaced it. To justify the fact that it was not their responsibility the township sent us a quote from the original deed from the single house purchased in 1941.

SUBJECT, HOWEVER, TO THE PAYMENT BY THE GRANTEES HEREIN AND THEIR HEIRS AND ASSIGNS OF THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING IN A GOOD CONDITION AND STATE OF REPAIR SAID RIGHT OF WAY OR PRIVATE ROAD,

But as this was the deed of only a single home, none of us had ever read the statement before, and the house in question was sold just 6 weeks later, and the lawyer in that purchase did not notice the clause. If the buyer had realized what was in the deed and the way it was being interpreted by the township he probably would have cancelled the purchase.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
Deeds are on land not on houses.
Agreed. And in your case it was a clause on a deed with 4 houses and now contains 20 houses. In my case it was a single house on ~100 acres of land that operated without any clauses on it's deed for 140 years. It was basically a farming community that worked mostly on handshakes and understandings. It was only when the old house was subdivided on it's own 1 acre property that this clause was added to the deed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
Just nut up and pay your share. That's gonna do more to improve your value than anything else especially lawyers.
double our taxes (not just township, but county and school tax
The township told us essentially that they would hire a contractor and get us a 40 year note that would require an annual payment that would probably cost $100K per year. That we should grin and bear the loss of equity if we tried to resell (by my calculation would be 25% to 33%) and if we didn't like it they would create a Special Assessment District to include just our homes.

The people on the other side of the creek own half the bridge. In fact their deed is the only one that mentions the bridge at all. But as they don't drive across the bridge as their is nothing but houses on the other side, they are completely excused from responsibility.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 02-24-2021 at 05:57 PM..
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Old 02-24-2021, 07:35 PM
 
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Here is a photo of one of the neighbors who just crossed the bridge and was hit by a train. You can see the bridge railings to the right as people are leaning against it.

A problem with the bridge is that it leads to a private lane which leads to what was a country road before 1914 when the bridge was built. Today that highway is very busy, and because it wasn't a city street there have been no improvement to the intersection. So basically it is like driving out of a driveway onto a state highway.

I realize this problem is very common with old roads, but I would prefer not to rebuild the bridge that may last for another century. In addition the owner of the 405' of private road would rather use the land for something more productive if possible than just having his neighbors drive through his orchard.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 02-24-2021 at 07:44 PM..
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Old 02-24-2021, 07:47 PM
 
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Did I miss the part where a court was asked to decide who has the responsibility for maintaining the bridge and the road? That would normally be done in the form of a lawsuit which, in this case, would probably be initiated by the residents following a questionable ruling by the town that they were responsible for the cost of replacing the bridge.
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Old 02-24-2021, 08:10 PM
 
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In Mexico, the neighborhoods of large metropolitan areas are known as colonias. One theory suggests that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside Mexico City's core was built by a French immigrant colony.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
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.
2560 Pennsylvania Municipalities : 12.8 million
565 New Jersey Municipalities : 8.88 million
482 California Municipalities: 39.51 million

The problem with that idea is that Pennsylvania is organized like the Holy Roman Empire. There are townships, boroughs, and cities everywhere. If you cross a stream you are frequently going from one municipality to another one.

No municipality can own a bridge that crosses a municipal line. These bridges are managed by at the county or state level.

In general Pennsylvania ranks #2 behind Iowa as the state with the most structural deficient bridges. No Department of bridges wants to hear about more problems than they already have.

The subdivision doesn't have particularly bad drainage problem. Had they built the public road on the high ground as originally planned, we would just close the bridge and drive out the back. For some reason that I hope did not involve a bribe they closed the roadway out the back.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

There was a case in Western Pennsylvania where a neighborhood about the same size as ours had a similar problem. There was also 13 homes, but they were surrounded by a deep creek on three sides with no roads nearby. The fourth side was a railroad track crossed by a wooden bridge built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in around 1906. The residents were using the wooden bridge along with emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles. When the Pennsylvania Railroad went bankrupt and was replaced by Amtrak and Conrail, all Conrail would say was that the bridge was still safe for vehicles that existed in 1906 when the bridge was built.

The county and township argued that they didn't build the bridge and it was not their responsibility. The judge ordered them to build a new bridge anyway. They also ordered Conrail and Amtrak to alter their signalling and not try and pass on any costs to the township and the county.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robocall View Post
Did I miss the part where a court was asked to decide who has the responsibility for maintaining the bridge and the road? That would normally be done in the form of a lawsuit which, in this case, would probably be initiated by the residents following a questionable ruling by the town that they were responsible for the cost of replacing the bridge.
Buoyed by this precedent, that is exactly what we did. But somehow the lawyers keep getting sidelined in endless loops about secondary issues.

Last edited by PacoMartin; 02-24-2021 at 08:25 PM..
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Old 02-24-2021, 10:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post


There was a case in Western Pennsylvania where a neighborhood about the same size as ours had a similar problem. There was also 13 homes, but they were surrounded by a deep creek on three sides with no roads nearby. The fourth side was a railroad track crossed by a wooden bridge built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in around 1906. The residents were using the wooden bridge along with emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles. When the Pennsylvania Railroad went bankrupt and was replaced by Amtrak and Conrail, all Conrail would say was that the bridge was still safe for vehicles that existed in 1906 when the bridge was built.

The county and township argued that they didn't build the bridge and it was not their responsibility. The judge ordered them to build a new bridge anyway. They also ordered Conrail and Amtrak to alter their signalling and not try and pass on any costs to the township and the county.



Buoyed by this precedent, that is exactly what we did. But somehow the lawyers keep getting sidelined in endless loops about secondary issues.
So, what was the decision of the court? If you're trying to say the case has not yet been heard or even filed due to intransigence on the part of the lawyers you may be reminded that both the lawyers, and the town, work for you. What are you waiting for?

You also have not mentioned anything at all about title searches and why none have apparently discovered there may be a problem with the right of way which may have a very real chilling affect on granting mortgages. I find it doubtful that the First Bank of East Overshoe is willingly accepting as collateral a number of properties that they would have no access to.
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Old 02-24-2021, 10:18 PM
 
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Ok got it. This is what you are reading totally in your favor.

"SUBJECT, HOWEVER, TO THE PAYMENT BY THE GRANTEES HEREIN AND THEIR HEIRS AND ASSIGNS OF THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING IN A GOOD CONDITION AND STATE OF REPAIR SAID RIGHT OF WAY OR PRIVATE ROAD,"

More specifically
"THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE"

Here's the thing about those three words. Yes they bind the buyer's property, but they also bind the sellers property as well because you can't have a proportionate share without a whole and at the point this deal was made there were two lots. So the share not on the new lot goes to the old lot proportionately and you own part of the old lot. I agree it's in artful but that's what it's effect is. If you had a lawsuit it would be against the original vestige lot saying they owe your share.

I gotta disagree with you on the wisdom of not taking the assessment deal. My math is on a 40 year note your talking $3800 a house per million dollars the bridge costs(4% interest rate). Keep in mind also that a township can issue tax free debt and have a better credit rating than any of you do. So they can probably get 2 or 3% interest rates. That's an incredibly generous deal on their part. They are also in a much better position to tell the railroad to stuff it if their contractor somehow offends the right of way. A railroad won't care about pissing on a middle class homeowner. They will think twice about going 10 rounds with a municipality they have to deal with forever.

doing the assessment is not gonna lower your property value. It will increase it. Why?

First off people are going to have heard of this fight and no one buys into a lawsuit at the price range of house you are talking about. They also want to make damn sure they have access. Also at that price point they want to have a nice access to their house.

When I bought my lot(it was the last subdivide) it was clear the street needed redoing. I researched the deed issue, got an estimate on the cost and what my share would be and got double that amount shaved off the list price just for that reason.

One thing that isn't going to happen is for a bank appraiser to devalue your lot based on a assessment for an improvement being on it. They are going to look at comps and replacement cost.

It's also the best option if you really don't want to pay upfront for the bridge.

You basically have the following options:
1. Fight the city in court and maybe get a new bridge fifteen years from now after spending hundreds of thousands collectively on a lawyer for a trial and all the appeals. In this case you would have paid in advance for a bridge that may or may not then be "free". If you sell before then you will have spent money on lawyers and not have the value of a bridge.
2. Pay out of pocket for it. If you sell then you get 100% of the cost and 100% of the improved value.
3. Take the city's offer where you basically are paying for the bridge as you go. Interest rates are so cheap now for governments money it's basically free when you build in inflation. So you would immediately get all of the value on your appraised value of a new improvement but the cost will be spread out over the next 40 years. If you sold the day after the bridge is finished you get 100% of the value enhancement and 0% of the cost.

I've been both a real estate investor and an officer in a municipal government and I gotta tell you they ain't gonna cave especially if you reject the offer of the assessment. That is such a good deal their read of rejection is that you just want to fight and not solve the problem. The way governments deal with people like that is stick the pot on the back burner and just let it cook, and cook, and cook. You are in a war of attrition with an entity that has infinite time and infinite money. Since you turned down a really generous offer they'll basically just keep looking for ways to make you burn money on lawyers until you give up. The more you agitate politically the harder their lawyer will fight and make you spend money on your lawyer.

You can fight city hall but not on "I want everyone in town to pay for a new bridge serving my and 12 other rich people's houses". The more high profile you make it the harder they will fight you on it.

I know you don't want to hear this. You are grieving. But call your lawyer and ask him or her whether they think this case is really worth it. Ask them what they think they could do on negotiating the assessment as a settlement. Can they get the city to assume responsibility for handling the railroad? "My clients would take that deal but are worried about a blank check for the railroad. If you'd guarantee a specific assessment I can sell them all the deal."

In other words instead of using this process to try and "win" use it to minimize risk and clean up these issues. You might want to include how the road get's maintained in the future among the owners while you are at it.
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Old 02-25-2021, 05:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
I gotta disagree with you on the wisdom of not taking the assessment deal. My math is on a 40 year note your talking $3800 a house per million dollars the bridge costs(4% interest rate). Keep in mind also that a township can issue tax free debt and have a better credit rating than any of you do. So they can probably get 2 or 3% interest rates. That's an incredibly generous deal on their part.
I get $3,886 per house per million, but that is quibbling. I have never seen the estimated principal as the letter was destroyed before I got here, but I was told it was either $1.4 or $1.6 million. About 6 years ago a cost of $675,000 was widely reported in the media for the replacement of a county operated bridge that was wider and longer and located less than 3 miles up the creek.

I wasn't here for the first 6 years of this 16.5 year drama, but the lawyers hired by the residents wrote a 29 page essay called "statement of just cause" that said the residents case was solid for 100% assumption of cost by the municipalities and estimates for legal fees were $20K to $30K.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
The way governments deal with people like that is stick the pot on the back burner and just let it cook, and cook, and cook. You are in a war of attrition with an entity that has infinite time and infinite money. Since you turned down a really generous offer they'll basically just keep looking for ways to make you burn money on lawyers until you give up. The more you agitate politically the harder their lawyer will fight and make you spend money on your lawyer.

You can fight city hall but not on "I want everyone in town to pay for a new bridge serving my and 12 other rich people's houses". The more high profile you make it the harder they will fight you on it.
You are pretty much spot on with the "war of attrition". The average assessment of the 13 parcels is 15% LOWER than the average assessment of a parcel in the township so I would say "rich people's houses" is a bit of a stretch.

My personal feeling is that the township approved a plan with a back entrance via a future public street, and then closed off the "paper street". Since public access to an internal public street is part of state law, I think they residents should have sued to request that the township rectify the illegal situation that they created and taken whatever solution the township developed.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jackalope48 View Post
Ok got it. This is what you are reading totally in your favor.

"SUBJECT, HOWEVER, TO THE PAYMENT BY THE GRANTEES HEREIN AND THEIR HEIRS AND ASSIGNS OF THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE OF THE EXPENSE OF MAINTAINING IN A GOOD CONDITION AND STATE OF REPAIR SAID RIGHT OF WAY OR PRIVATE ROAD,"

More specifically
"THEIR PROPORTIONATE SHARE"

Here's the thing about those three words...
My biggest complaint about that phrase is it was in someone else's deed written in 1941. By simple calculation you have 13 homes that have been sold and resold multiple times since 1941. Rough estimate that is over 50 deeds. Who hires a lawyer to read 50 deeds and look for clauses that might affect you.


About 7 years after the subdivision was approved in 1958 the real estate lawyer who worked the project for over a decade bought a retirement home in the subdivision. A few months later a stolen truck crashed into the bridge bringing the issues to the attention of the Board of Supervisors. The lawyer wrote that they assumed that the township owned the bridge. The township solicitor disagreed.

Bottom line is if the lawyer who oversaw the subdivision development thought the bridge was owned by the township, then how would you expect homeowners to know the difference? If the township had spent $10 on a sign that said "Private Bridge" then each new homeowner would at least know the township's opinion.

A normal bridge is inspected and the metal is at least painted once a year
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Old 02-25-2021, 06:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
My biggest complaint about that phrase is it was in someone else's deed written in 1941. By simple calculation you have 13 homes that have been sold and resold multiple times since 1941. Rough estimate that is over 50 deeds. Who hires a lawyer to read 50 deeds and look for clauses that might affect you.


About 7 years after the subdivision was approved in 1958 the real estate lawyer who worked the project for over a decade bought a retirement home in the subdivision. A few months later a stolen truck crashed into the bridge bringing the issues to the attention of the Board of Supervisors. The lawyer wrote that they assumed that the township owned the bridge. The township solicitor disagreed.

Bottom line is if the lawyer who oversaw the subdivision development thought the bridge was owned by the township, then how would you expect homeowners to know the difference? If the township had spent $10 on a sign that said "Private Bridge" then each new homeowner would at least know the township's opinion.

A normal bridge is inspected and the metal is at least painted once a year
That deed included the phrase "heirs and assigns", which is everyone who has bought pieces of the property since that deed was recorded.

Who reads 50 deeds? That's what title companies are for, assuming those exist in your state. Have you tried to get the title company to pay for the road, since they appear to have missed the deed language? May as well get more people to have skin in this game.

No, the metal on a bridge is not painted every year. That's overkill. Every 30 years, maybe.
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