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Real Estate: Dealing with Agents/Talk to Realtor about property description?


Hi John-

I have lived at my house for over 15 years and have had a property dispute with my neighbor along part of my back lot line. It involves an area approx 20'X60' behind her garage and side yard. The city/county workers tell me and the maps they have show that it is mine, not hers.

She passed away a few months ago and her kids have put the house up for sale this week. The problem is the listing describes the property as having a "large back yard". I personally wouldn't describe a 5' wide strip behind the garage as a large back yard and think her kids mis-informed her on were the actual lot line is.

Should I call the Realtor and question the description? Say nothing and let the buyer beware?


There are a couple issues to consider.
First, has either of you been using the space in question? Has either of you been watering, mowing or in any other way caring for it? Does either of you have any personal property (lawn furniture, storage shed, etc.) on the property?
If she has been using it, she has "encroached" on your property. If you have allowed her continue to encroach on it for 15 years knowing that it was actually your property, then it could be argued that she has established a "constructive easement." An easement is a right to use the land. Determining if an easement exists is a legal process for which I recommend you speak with a real estate attorney to resolve.
If neither of you has been using the land, you may want to have the land surveyed and staked to confirm your claim to it. I wouldn't rely on city maps or county workers, you need the services of a licensed surveyor to confirm the boundary.
Have you contacted the kids to discuss the boundary? If they look at the map and agree with you, you might want to simply stake the boundary and run colored rope along the edge so buyer's don't make an incorrect assumption concerning the lot they are buying.
If the kids dispute your claim, you need to have the land surveyed and speak with an attorney for advice on how to resolve the dispute.  

Real Estate: Dealing with Agents

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John A. Souerbry


I can answer questions pertaining to: - How to find an agent that fits your needs - How to compensate your agent (commissions, incentives, flat fees, and more) - How to communicate with your agent before and during your transaction - How to initiate dispute resolution with an agent I cannot answer questions pertaining to: - Potential litigation or other legal matters


I am a licensed California real estate broker (CalBRE 01370983) specializing in residential brokerage, property management, and estate services. I have been licensed since 2003 and am currently working as an independent broker in the San Francisco Bay area.

Bay East Association of REALTORS(R) Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS(R) California Association of REALTORS(R) National Association of REALTORS(R)

In addition to my own web site, my blogs, articles and responses to consumer questions appear online at,, and other real estate forums. My answers also appear in several categories relating to real estate on

BS, Business Administration MBA, Globa Management

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My clients are: - Consumers searching for a primary residence or vacation home - Investors buying and/or managing residential income property - Estates in probate requiring temporary management and property sales support

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