DEAR BOB: When my townhouse was built about 25 years ago, the developer planted a hedge on about 30 feet of land owned by the city. He said he had permission to do so, but no paperwork exists. The city now wants the hedge removed. You have referred to the concepts of adverse possession, prescriptive easements and laches. Can these arguments be used against the city? –Paul H.

DEAR PAUL: No. The laws of adverse possession and prescriptive easements do not apply to government agencies, public utilities and railroads. The legal term “laches” is not applicable because it refers to an unreasonable delay in bringing a lawsuit to the detriment of the defendant.

That is not your situation. If the hedge is on city property, the hedge belongs to the city and it can remove the hedge if desired.

CAN HOME SELLER CANCEL LISTING BEFORE IT EXPIRES?

DEAR BOB: Is there any way I can cancel my listing without a penalty before the date it expires? –George B.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

DEAR GEORGE: The answer depends on your reason for canceling your listing. If you have a bad agent who is not using “due diligence” to get your home sold, it would be best to transfer your listing to a more effective realty agent within the same brokerage firm. Contact the office manager of the brokerage where the listing agent works to arrange such a listing transfer.

However, if you have decided not to sell your home, just quietly let the listing expire. That is far easier than trying to get a listing canceled.

To be fair to the listing agent, you might inform her you really don’t want to sell unless she can bring you a full-price, all-cash purchase offer. Chances of that happening are slim so you will not owe any penalty.

IS MORTGAGE REFINANCE OR HOME EQUITY LOAN BEST?

DEAR BOB: We were trying to sell our home but the home sale market in our town is very slow now. Our plan was to move out of Florida, but that’s not going to happen. Now we are thinking of refinancing our mortgage or obtaining a home equity loan, and then renting the house. Which loan type is best? –Debra S.

DEAR DEBRA: Presuming you have substantial home equity, good income and good credit, either choice offers pros and cons. If you refinance with an owner-occupied mortgage, you can probably get a fixed interest rate around 6.5 percent today.

However, if you instead obtain a home equity credit line, the interest rate will be around the 8.25 percent prime rate. But a credit line won’t cost you anything until you actually borrow the money.

The answer to your question depends on what you plan to do with the money. If you have an immediate use for the funds, obtaining a refinanced mortgage might be your best choice. But if you want a credit line for future use, then a credit line could be the least expensive selection.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “Pros and Cons of Living Trusts to Avoid Conservatorship, Probate Costs and Delays for Your Heirs,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

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