Let me say, my husband and I have bought four homes in our life and the first three were in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The first one was small, we fixed it up and sold it as we did with the second and third.
We are pretty educated and take pride in reading all the fine print and asking plenty of questions so we can make a good decision especially when it comes to places to live. Things such as HOA's means a lot to us because we can't stand HOA's. Does the house have gas, electric, both or just electric?
We knew when we were buying a home in Aberdeen, Washington that I wanted several things:
- Wood Floors
- Two baths (or at least 1 3/4)
- Garage or Carport
Not to mention everywhere you drive in this area are signs pointing you which way to run if a Tsunami hits, so living on a hill was a huge plus in my husbands mind because we were safe from the low lying areas and you don't need flood insurance.
We found the home that had everything with the exception of a carport/garage. We have a very narrow driveway that butts right up against our neighbors home and our yard bulkhead. It is less than 10' wide from the street up past our back steps.
The one problem my husband found when it came time to signing the contract was a driveway easement from 1941. Thats 66 years ago for those of you trying to do the math!
My husband did what most normal people would do, he asked our realtor, what does this mean? Does this home have a shared driveway? He told him if it does, he wanted to keep looking because we 2 vehicles and a motorcyle, he did not want to try sharing a driveway.
Phoenix had tried shared driveways in certain areas and the idea wasn't taking off very well plus my husband saw shared driveways as problems if someone didn't or couldn't get their vehicle out of the driveway because of a neighbor using the driveway.
Our realtor who works for JOHN L. SCOTT REALTY in Aberdeen told my husband he would look into it for us. The realtor spoke with my husband and stated it was a shared driveway for the benefit of the neighbor only for repairs to their home or access to their back door if necessary. Other than that, it was our driveway!
Our JOHN L. SCOTT REALTOR, did not come back and tell my husband he did not have the answer to our question about the driveway. He did not tell us, we should contact the county recorder or assessor's office. He did not tell us to speak with the title company. He did not once suggest we contact a real estate attorney.
When my husband moved in the home next door to ours had a renter living there, who would periodically ask my husband if he minded if she unloaded her groceries or other items into her home or vehicle from our driveway. My husband never objected and this only reinforced his belief the driveway belonged to us.
So, here we are now, coming up on nine months of living in said house when the house next door begins to get lookers for the property since it is up for sale. Several times we are asked to move our vehicles out of the driveway so people can look at the house and my husband explains the driveway is ours & the house next door has a garage on the street next to it!
Stop, back up, what? The house next to ours sits on a hill on lets call it Normal Street. On Normal Street there is a garage for this home and on the street parking. On Hill Street (not the real name) where our house sits and said driveway sits, there is no on the street parking allowed on either side of the street. So, if we can't park in our driveway, we have no place to park!
So back to the issue. We contact the realtor selling the house and explain the situation about the driveway and how it is ours and she adds to her ad that parking is on Normal Street and don't block the drive on Hill Street. Further confirming our opinion this is our driveway.
Well, the house sells (or supposedly sold) & the owners stop by to look at it. They park in our driveway and I explain the driveway situation as it was explained to us.
Well, read all the fine print!! He explains to me he owns 1/2 the driveway and he was told there was a recent survey completed (hmmm, 1994 isn't recent in my book) and they will be putting a garage/carport at the end of it. I explain working times for my husband and he explains their situation.
Easy put, no way are 4 vehicles or 3 NOT going to have problems coming and going!!
I call our JOHN L. SCOTT REALTOR, I tell him what is going on and he tells me that no, the driveway isn't shared and he will look into it and get back to me. Okay, I'm thinking there is a misunderstanding, we can work through this misunderstanding. He calls me the next day and tells me the sellers realtor will call me.
Here is what she says:
- Driveway has an easement and it is to be shared.
- Your realtor should have explained it to you when you bought it (nope and he still hasn't)
- It was recently surveyed in 1994, we don't need to have it surveyed (hmmm, with that comment I think we do!)
- She will keep in touch and lets all be adults about this.
I called the recorder and yes, there is an easement, we can come down and look at it. Call the title company, their map is just a grid and I can't figure anything out by it except there is an easement.
We still have a call out to the city to see if they are willing to widen our driveway or make us a parking spot on the street by cutting into our property and using their easement and we are going to hire a surveyor.
Here is what I want to explain to all of you! Do your homework, read the contract all 100 pages or whatever and read the fine print and if you don't understand any part of it, stop the paperwork and find a real estate attorney who can help you make an informed decision.
We sunk a booty full of money into repairs and remodeling this house over the summer and we have no money to sell our home, we won't get the money we have in it back out right now, we have no money for a down payment and we basically are stuck.
So, don't trust your realtor or anyone else, hire an attorney and if you come to Aberdeen as they say, 'Come as You are,' but be prepared to hire an attorney to help you buy your home and don't buy from JOHN L. SCOTT REALTY, They will do anything and say anything to sell you a home!