So, you're thinking about buying a home in an outlying area. Congratulations! Hello, I'm Gary Edelbrock, and I've been talking with Nancy and Brian Biggs about purchasing property. Seriously, once you read this article, you'll understand why it's important to hire an experienced, knowledgeable realtor before signing any papers.
Beware of Property Pitfalls
By Nancy and Brian Biggs
Some of our most interesting transactions are with homes in outlying areas. You never know what you're going to uncover, and each parcel is unique. Our clients were interested in a manufactured home property in an unincorporated area off of Hwy 169 near Dewey. This property was fun to research in that it had one problem after another. The most interesting issue was a deed restriction, but we'll get to that in a minute.
The property started out as a legal land split. Someone bought a large parcel of land and then split it into five parcels. That is perfectly legal in Arizona, but these types of splits are often strewn with pitfalls such as who owns the well, whether legal access to the property exists, and who maintains the roads.
We eventually found the well record for the property. The well was shared, but it was recorded with the wrong owner. The well itself was in a disastrous location. It sat in a little valley (which is great for being closer to the water table). However, the neighbor's property was right next to the well, and the neighbor had about ten cows. Cows doo as cows do, and there were enough cow pies surrounding the well to serve an army. Yuck!
That issue might be fixable, but onto the real story... Since there were so many issues with this parcel, and since we knew it was a lot split, we decided to do a deed history search. The original subdivider of the land often puts a deed restriction in place to maintain certain criteria. For example, the restriction might state that only site-built homes can be built on a parcel, or that parcels cannot be split below a certain amount of acreage. The deed restriction supersedes the zoning. The zoning might allow for a minimum size of two acres, but the deed restriction might set the minimum at ten acres. Certain areas north of Hwy 89A in Prescott Valley have lot size deed restrictions.
In this case, it turns out that the original subdivider allowed manufactured homes, but only if they were on a permanent foundation. Well, this manufactured home was on piers, which violated the deed restriction. If someone wanted to make a stink of things, they could force the current owner to move the manufactured home, and put it on a permanent foundation - at great expense!
As you can imagine after we explained the situation, our client ran away from this property. The property later sold and we feel sorry for the buyer, but they never called us for advice.
Nancy and Brian Biggs, Broker/Owners