DEAR BOB: We just moved into our home, which was built in 1999. It had one previous owner. It is a corner lot. I am trying to determine where the property lines are located. When we obtained our mortgage, the bank said because we made a $120,000 down payment, we could save some money by not having our lot surveyed. I would like to know where my boundaries are located so I can put up a fence. Any suggestions for a free or cheap way to get me this info? – Tess L.
DEAR TESS: Your first stop should be the local county or city recorder’s office. There is probably a subdivision map recorded. If you obtained an owner’s title insurance policy, most title insurers include a small map showing your lot and its dimensions, such as 50-foot frontage and 75-foot depth.
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But without a survey, the title insurer doesn’t insure the boundary locations as part of the title policy.
To have the lot line “staked” by a professional surveyor, I suggest you spend a few hundred dollars to obtain an exact survey of your lot. Then you can build your fence on your side of the boundary without fear (presuming there are no city or homeowner’s association fence restrictions).
QUIT CLAIM DEED IS FINE IF YOU GET AN OWNER’S TITLE POLICY
DEAR BOB: Last year my very generous grandmother gave me a quit claim deed to a little rental house she owned in a town about 25 miles away. She said it was too much trouble to manage the tenants. I don’t blame her. They were a bunch of “bikers” who never paid the rent on time and threatened me whenever I came to the house to collect the rent. After several months, I decided to hire a real estate attorney to evict them. But that’s not my problem. My grandmother recently died. Her will said that rental house was to go to another relative. Can he take this property away from me? – Ron R.
DEAR RON: Presuming grandmother’s quit claim deed was properly notarized and you recorded it, you should have no problem. However, as I constantly advise, you should have purchased an owner’s title insurance policy to be certain there are no title problems.
When a decedent mentions an asset in his/her will that he/she has previously sold or given away, the heir to that property receives nothing. For more details, please consult a local attorney.
DON’T ADD SON WITH BAD CREDIT TO YOUR TITLE
DEAR BOB: Our 31-year old-son, who has health problems that prevent him from employment, has become very interested in real estate. He reads your articles and virtually every real estate book you review. But he made some bad financial decisions, such as buying a car and not making the payments. As a result, his credit is very bad. He found a foreclosure house that a bank is selling at a bargain price. From his trust fund, he has enough money for the down payment. He asked us to apply for the mortgage and buy the house in our names since we have great credit. However, we think this should be “his” investment. Should we add his name to the title? – Harold W.
DEAR HAROLD: Not yet. Congratulations to your son for finding a real estate investment opportunity despite his health problems. He is very fortunate to have understanding parents like you who can help him purchase his first investment property.
My suggestion is to buy the investment property in your names. Let your son manage the property. Presuming he does well, later you can add his name to the title by a quit claim deed. As long as the mortgage payments are paid on time, the lender won’t care.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “Robert’s Realty Rules: How to Avoid the 10 Worst Home Seller Mistakes,” is now available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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