CRITICAL "LEGAL" VERIFICATION BEFORE BUYING OR SELLING REAL ESTATE

CRITICAL "LEGAL" VERIFICATION BEFORE BUYING OR SELLING REAL ESTATE

          When purchasing or selling real estate, it's important to hire a real estate agent to help with the marketing and sale of your property.  Real estate agents must be licensed, and should know the processes of listing homes and preparing homes for sale.  Additionally, are a huge help to buyers in showing the type of home being sought, and helping through the buying processes.  That aside, it's important for home buyers and home sellers to understand and check on some critical details in the process of buying or selling real property.
 
         Arguably most important thing to check as the buyer or seller is the actual legal boundaries of the property.  The deed to the real property will offer a description of the boundaries, and many Deeds reference a plat of the land. Whatever has been registered as the Deed (and associated plat) is the legal boundaries of the property.  In most counties in South Carolina, the general public can find the information on line at the respective county registry of Deeds website.  They can provide this information to a surveyor to check the land.  Critically, this actual lines of property may not necessarily coincide with fences and other physical boundary markers. Even the Tax Map boundaries may be off. The actual survey, based on the legal Deed/plat, will give ground truth.  
 
        As an attorney working various cases (personal injury, family law, estates, etc.), the most shocking cases to clients come with the transfer of expensive real property without a survey based on the legal Deed.  Homes worth over a million dollars of which multiple owners have purchased and sold with incorrect physical boundaries (yard fences, etc.).  If the buyers catch the mistake within the statute of limitations (3 years for most torts, including breach of contract or fraudulent misrepresentation between private entities), the buyers may sue the prior owners who sold the property.  It may seem unfair to the prior owners, and they had not surveyed the property, but they may be "stuck holding the bag" of having advertised real property as consisting of property beyond the legal physical limits:  A yard that stretches onto common area property or adjacent property, for example.
 
       The best way to prevent this nightmare is to have all property surveyed prior to purchasing it.  Do not assume that seemingly "ancient" fences prove legal lines without verification.  Do not be stuck "holding the bag" when someone decides to conduct a survey.  Be smart.

Bill Connor Orangeburg Attorney Bill Connor received his Bachelor of Arts from The Citadel in 1990, and after serving for over a decade as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, including three deployments to the Middle East, he received his Juris Doctorate from The University of South Carolina in 2005. In 2012, Bill was honored to receive an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, the top peer rating for American lawyers. Receiving this rating at such an early point in his career is unheard of among lawyers.

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The Bill Connor Law Firm

1408 Russell St

Orangeburg, SC 29115

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