Neighbor’s death puts end to driveway shortcut

DEAR BOB: For at least 30 years, we (and the previous ownersof our property) have used a “shortcut” driveway over an adjoiningowner’s property to reach the paved county highway. Our property adjoins a dirtroad, which becomes very difficult to use during bad weather so we use theshortcut most of the time. However, the adjoining owner, with whom we were goodfriends, died a few months ago. His heirs plan to sell that property. Theytried to block our use of the shortcut, but our attorney obtained a temporarycourt injunction allowing us to continue using that driveway. As our attorneyis semi-retired and not very familiar with real estate law, what should we doto save our “shortcut” driveway over the adjoining property? –MarvinM.

DEAR MARVIN: Hire the best real estate attorney you can findbecause you have a big legal problem.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

To obtain a prescriptive easement over a neighbor’sproperty, your use of that driveway must be open, notorious, hostile andcontinuous for the number of years required in your state.

From your description, it sounds like your late neighbor wasa friend who didn’t mind your driving over his property. That means your usewas not “hostile” without the owner’s permission.

Therefore, you won’t be entitled to create a permanentprescriptive easement over the adjoining property. If I were in your situation,I would start getting used to driving over the dirt road that adjoins yourproperty.


DEAR BOB: Recently I stopped in a real estate office in atown where my husband and I are thinking of relocating. We spent about 15 minutestalking with an agent. She took my name and phone and said she would get backto us. After checking her out on the Internet, I learned that agent has beenthere just two years and really didn’t know the area that well. I would ratherdeal with a more experienced agent. Is it possible to change agents within thesame brokerage office without having to pay two commissions and creating amess? –Mrs. B.J.

DEAR MRS. B.J.: Just because you talked with a real estateagent for 15 minutes and gave her your name and phone did not create a buyer’sagent relationship.

Unless you signed a “buyer’s agency” contract withthat agent, you are free to work with any licensed agent you wish, includinganother agent with the same brokerage firm. As a buyer, you won’t be paying anysales commission anyway.


DEAR BOB: My husband and I want to sell our property. Weinherited this five-unit property in a distant city. Should we hire aprofessional appraiser or trust the realty agent we choose and the lender toset a fair asking price? –Sheila G.

DEAR SHEILA: Before listing any property for sale, alwaysinterview at least three local successful realty agents who sell propertieslike yours in the vicinity.

After inspecting your property, each agent should prepare awritten CMA (comparative market analysis) showing recent sales prices ofsimilar nearby properties, current listings of neighborhood properties likeyours, and recently expired comparable listings (usually overpriced). Each CMAshould include the agent’s opinion of your property’s market value.

Most realty agents are in closer touch with local realestate market conditions than are professional appraisers who confirm marketvalues for mortgage lenders. In today’s buyer’s market in most cities,successful realty agents usually understand local market conditions and cangive you the most accurate opinion of your property’s market value.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Sell YourHouse or Condo for Top Dollar in a Buyer’s Market,” is now available for$5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

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

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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