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Looks May Be Deceiving

Title companies receive surveys and “read” them into title, translating the visual into the verbal. Sometimes the visual gets smushified (a highly technical term for you less than legal-savvy readers) via scans or faxes or multiple reproductions, consequently causing a mistake to be made.

Such was the case when a shrunken-down version of a survey was scanned and e-mailed to a very thorough and knowledgeable person in the title company. The very scrunchified (yep, another legal term) designation 0.4’E was read by this person as gate, changing the whole implication of fence placement.

Here’s how it is magnified, so you can see what it really says:

Trust me, scanned, e-mailed and then faxed around, it does look like gate! Since the fence is way inside the homeowner’s property line, they could be in jeopardy of losing the property outside the line to a neighbor’s claim of adverse possession if the homeowners seemingly abandoned the property. However, if they have a gate way back at the almost end of their property, it would appear that they wanted access to the outside portion and would be able to maintain that property easily. Thus, in the minds of the attorneys reviewing the survey reading showing a gate at the very back of the property would likely be no adverse possession claim by a neighbor requiring a boundary line agreement or other affidavit to extinguish.

But in this case, there’s no gate. And if my clients didn’t respond with a: “hey, there’s no gate there!” when I forwarded them the reading, the potential for later problems would not have arisen. Now, it should be a burden on the sellers’ attorney to erase any possible claim with some paperwork. Later, it might have been expensive litigation and a possible loss of land all falling squarely on my clients and their wallets.


Have a great weekend! I hope some teams you root for win…



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January 2019


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