Buying or selling a home? Check easements

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
The front door to Nancy Waterworth’s family home in Collier County. Credit: WINK News.

After decades in the family, a woman is ready to sell her parents’ home, but she ran into a snag after learning where the property sits.

Part of the home is fair game for a third party. It’s an issue that’s more common for homeowners than they might think.

To Nancy Waterworth, her parents’ home is more than a place to keep a roof over your head, it’s a standing memorial to them.

“It’s tough,” Waterworth said. “I mean, and that’s why I moved out immediately because I could not live in that house because I would smell him everywhere I would go, and the memories.”

Waterworth’s mom passed away more than a decade ago, and when dad did last year, selling their home in Collier County became a top priority.

But Waterworth hit a snag: Her lanai extends one foot into an easement, meaning a third party has the right to burrow under her lanai to get to their equipment.

“And I need help,” Waterworth said. “I can’t sell the house in the condition it’s in.”

Kevin Jursinksi, a real estate attorney, says an easement doesn’t mean you can’t sell or shouldn’t buy. You can negotiate with the utility company to come to a solution such as moving the underground equipment, or explain the risk directly to buyers.

“There’s no harm no foul until they want to access it,” Jurinski said. “At which time, the homeowner or the new owner could be subject to having their lot excavated or torn up to repair the lines.”

With such a hot market right now, Naples broker Dirk Fischer believes many buyers will overlook this situation.

“Buyers are desperate. They are in a very bad position right now,” Fischer said. “There has never been a time when buyers for so willing to compromise. The only way to deal with this issue is to be upfront and honest.”

Experts say the key is to be upfront and honest, so both sellers and buyers can find success in today’s market.

Real estate experts say getting a survey on the home is also key. That way, whether you’re a buyer or seller, there will be no unpleasant surprises.

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