So, you found your dream home! You sign the purchase and sale agreement and deposit the earnest money. When you hear from your real estate agent of a competing urbanite who expressed interest in the parcel, you breathe easy knowing it is “your place.”
Ten days later, the title insurance commitment arrives – twenty-three pages of legalese. Who has time to read that? That’s why you get title insurance . . . right? You have moving boxes to think about!
The kids are enrolled in school, your spouse is happy, and your fellow telecommuters are jealous. You close the sale. You have arrived!
Later you start eyeing that quirky road. You seem to remember that your agent told you no one uses it but you decide it needs a fence to block access, just in case! While the company is installing the new fence, a man driving a pickup truck pounds on your front door and hands you an envelope. In it are legal documents and a letter.
The letter says you cannot build a fence across your own parcel because you are blocking access to his hunting camp located a few miles up “that quirky road.” Hunting camp? Really? Do people still hunt! Strangers with guns and dead animals crossing your property? What??
Wait. You have title insurance. You dig out the papers and call the insurance company. The broker stuns you when he says your title insurance will not bar the hunter’s access to that the quirky road. He has a recorded easement that allows him access to his hunting land. Further, because the easement is a matter of public record, you were apprised of it when you received the twenty-three pages of legalese before you closed on the property. The man in the pickup truck is merely exercising his right to access his land.
You take a breath. You can handle this. You are an otherwise successful, intelligent person who owns a home – with an easement! What’s an easement?? What does it mean to you and your spouse and your chicken coop and your home office and your jealous co-telecommuters?
Buying land in the country is not the same as buying land in the city. What can you do? The solution to this and other legal problems depends on the unique fact pattern and application of the “law” to those facts.
When purchasing land in the country, it is best to contact a qualified land attorney before signing the purchase and sale agreement, or as quickly after signing as is possible.