My client lives in a subdivision and wants to buy the property directly behind his/her house. The property to be purchased is not in the subdivision. What should I recommend to my client?
First, you should get an idea on the front end of what your client wants to do with the property and have a detailed discussion of the steps involved in accomplishing the objective. As discussed below, these “steps” will probably involve planning and zoning, surveyors, attorneys and the clerk of court. Accomplishing the “steps” can be a very detailed and drawn out process with many additional requirements, but agents that provide clients with good guidance on the front end can help streamline the entire process.
If your client wants to build on the property to be purchased, he/she may need to obtain a building permit through planning and zoning. Accordingly, your client should contact the local planning and zoning office to determine whether a building permit will be needed for the construction project. Some construction projects may not need a building permit. For example, if your client is going to build a brick fence on the property that is less than six (6) feet tall, some planning and zoning offices don’t require a building permit for this type of project.
Usually, building permits are required, however, and many planning and zoning offices require that in order to obtain a building permit, the property to be purchased must be connected to a road.
If a road connected to the property is a prerequisite to obtaining a building permit and a road is not present, then what?
At this point, your client has a couple of options:
- Your client can either build the road himself or herself; or
- Your client might be able to annex the property to be purchased to his/her property contained within the subdivision and, thus, use the road in the subdivision.
In either of the above, a survey may be required. So, the cost of this should be evaluated by contacting different surveyors/engineers. (Most title attorneys have a list of respected surveyors/engineers and can give you appropriate contact information to price-shop).
If your client wants to build the road himself or herself, the details of the type of road required should be discussed with planning and zoning and the cost of the road should be evaluated.
If your client wants to annex his or her property to their current subdivision, then the restrictive covenants of a neighborhood usually outline what must be done to receive approval of the proposed annexation. Generally, most established neighborhoods require 2/3 approval of the annexation from all the current homeowners in the neighborhood. For newer neighborhoods, the developer of the neighborhood might be able to provide approval of the annexation. It might be prudent to enlist the services of an attorney to review the restrictive covenants to determine what is required and draft the necessary paperwork.
For either number 1 or 2 above, there will likely be clerk of court costs that should be evaluated by contacting the local clerk of court.
So, before your client goes out and purchases property, all possible steps should be discussed and the total cost of the purchase should be weighed/analyzed.
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H.L. “Rye” Tuten, III, is a Title Attorney/Real Estate Closing Attorney and Owner of Tuten Title & Escrow, LLC. Formerly assigned by RICE Insurance to defend real estate agents throughout Acadiana, much of his more than nine years’ litigation experience is with real estate concerns.