Real Estate Information Archive


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Is a Survey Important?

by Cynthia LaChapelle


Is a Survey Important?

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

A survey can be mildly interesting or critically important, yet mortgage companies no longer require a survey, so I always recommend my clients get one when buying a home. They literally show things that the attorney can't see on a title search. 

The biggest encroachment I saw was several years ago. I had suggested my buyers order a survey, and it showed that a large part of the next-door neighbor's beautifully landscaped and fenced yard actually belonged to the property that my clients were buying. It stretched from about six feet wide in the front to thirty feet in the back along the entire side of the lot. It was a huge chunk of their yard. Both of the homes had been purchased nearly seven years earlier, and neither property had used brokers, so neither knew to buy a survey. We had to hold the closing until the sellers could have the neighbor's fence removed from their yard. (At one point the seller went out with a sledge hammer when the neighbors left for the weekend. Luckily I was there and advised him to go through better channels. This is how feuds get started.)  Since it was nearly seven years of allowing the neighbor to use their yard (even unknowingly), they were very close to creating a legal claim to keep it. 

How annoying is it when someone lays claim to your yard?

Sometimes it's by mistake, and sometimes they are trying to claim some extra space. Someone will mow "over the line" by a little or a lot, and the owner's blood pressure will shoot up, sure that this is on purpose. Other times the neighbors will plant trees or shrubs on the neighbor's yard. Quite often just having those little orange flags put along your borders can jog the neighbors' memories that this is your lot.

Don't build a fence or add any structure to your yard until you know where the lot lines are for certain. The city of Raleigh requires a survey to be drawn and flagged if a fence is built, as do many homeowner's associations. 

Hidden easements

Your attorney will perform a title search when you purchase a home, but they often don't show an easement.  For example:

•You would want to know if you can't fence the back 30 feet of your lot due to a utility easement. 

•You might like to know if the lines that pump jet fuel from Apex to the airport lie underneath your lot- especially if you were planning to dig a pool.

Since many homeowners will end up ordering a survey at some point in the future, you might as well get one when you are purchasing the property when you might still have some leverage to get a problem resolved by the previous owner.

For more information on how to be a savvy home buyer or seller, contact Cynthia.

10 Tips on Renting to Dog Owners

by Cynthia LaChapelle

Landlords - Do You Rent to Pet Owners?

I make a point of saying in my ads that I accept all breeds of dogs. I'm a dog lover and foster them for Best Friends Pet Adoption. I'm on a mission to put dogs into homes, but I have a financial motive too. I get more money for renting to dogs. I consider them furry tenants. 

In addition to a non-refundable fee, all dogs pay rent.  That fee is for living there, not for any damage. The tenant still has to pay for damage under my lease. I use the NCAA lease with a couple of the NCAR addenda to close the gaps. My lease clearly states that urine is not normal wear and tear

I prefer to rent to dogs rather than cats, and I won't rent to male cats. They spray urine even up the walls. I've seen more woodwork damage with cats than dogs. They may use your door frames as scratching posts. Plus, I'm allergic to cats. 

10  Tips For Renting to Dog Owners

1) Take the carpet out where possible, and install laminate flooring. 

2) Accept pets with a one-time registration fee and a monthly pet fee.

3) Require written evidence of current shots. I ask for vet records.

4) No aggressive animals.  Check your insurance carrier, to see if they have any breeds that they will not  cover. Mine has no breed restrictions, but most do.

5) The landlord must meet and approve the animal before accepting. (I foster stray pit bulls.) 

6) Have them submit a photo of each pet. Keep it in your file, and when you go there for a repair check to see if it's the same animal. If there are "extra" animals, it's easier to spot that when there isn't supposed to be ... a white one. 
7) No Puppies. One year is a good minimum, but it isn't a line. Puppies chew and pee everywhere. Some older dogs will too, but you can guarantee damage if there are puppies. It's easy for a puppy to do $1000 of damage.
8) It's best to have a fenced yard if you're allowing dogs. Otherwise, they are going to be in your house most of the time. They get bored. When bored they get destructive and chew. They may pee on things or bark and annoy neighbors.
9) Tenant must have renter's insurance with extra liability coverage. Make them send you an initial copy, and send a new one each year. They often let it lapse, even though it is incredibly cheap. It's usually about $50-$75 per year. (Remember that the next time you see someone who had a fire and lost everything from not having renter's insurance.  For $1 per week they would have been fine.)
10) Service dogs legally are not pets, so any additional "pet" fees or "no pet" restrictions would not apply. Also, you must allow any service animal with documentation. It can be any kind of animal, and there is a lot of stretching of the truth in what is a service animal. I personally wouldn't question any credentials, because there are fines for violations. 



Displaying blog entries 1-2 of 2