real estate

How to inspect your future neighborhood

Survey for lot-line land mines
Survey for lot-line land mines © Hu Xiao Fang/

Could your potential new dream home use a new fence? You might hold off on your plans. You'd be shocked to see how many presumed yard boundaries are actually wrong by a few feet or more -- and how many neighbors are primed to call you on that fact if you rub them the wrong way after moving in.

Perhaps worse, some neighbors may try to claim a sliver of your potential land that they've been using for years through a phenomenon called adverse possession (squatter's rights). If there's any lot-line ambiguity whatsoever, go to the township and inspect the property survey, then check it against the property lines. You may want to order a new survey if a wide disparity becomes apparent.


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