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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    3

    Default Fence is Before the Property Line

    I am buying my first house and was able to meet the owners. They took me on a tour of the house and when they showed me the backyard they said the fence is before the property line. It's been like that since the house was built at the request of the 1st owner (they are the 2nd). I didn't think it was a problem to keep the fence as is but people are telling me this can be costly in the future. I really want this house but a fence that is about 4ft before it seems like a deal breaker. What problems can arise?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
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    74,805

    Default Re: First Time Home Buyer Involved in a Fence Dispute

    What exactly do you mean by "the fence is before the property line", and why would that create expense? Do you mean that the fence is four feet into the neighbor's property?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    The fence is on the sellers property and an extra 4ft after the fence. Also my agent found out that the sellers are not living there which they told us they are. We found out that they recently refinanced and the appraised was 188k i am buying it for 195k. I am waiting for the banks appraisal

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    Quote Quoting Sondon
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    The fence is on the sellers property and an extra 4ft after the fence.
    So, what type of property is adjacent to this property -- another residential lot (vacant or improved), or state-owned lands, or what?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    357

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    "Before" the fence, "after" the fence are each terms that denote time rather than location in my mind, so I'm confused.

    When you say "a fence that is about 4ft before it" and "The fence is on the sellers property and an extra 4ft after the fence", it leaves me needing clarification. How about you refere to how much of the neighbor's property is on your side of the fence, or how much of the seller's property is on the other side of the fence?

    Trying to interpret these statements, I understand (kind of) that the fence is 4 ft on the seller's side of the property line, so that 4 ft of the property you are considering buying is on the neighbor's side of the fence. Is that correct?

    Seems to me you have two problems. 1) The fence, and 2) you may be paying too much to begin with. If it were me, I'd have the seller attempt to correct the fence issue prior to the sale, and make the sale contingent on that. The 2nd problem is a matter of negotiation and a factor of when you have the appraisal done. In the current market, my own home lost that much value in a month. It may lose another 10K by the end of the 3rd quarter, or it may gain half of it back. Prices are that volatile now, but the trend still seems to be down in many markets.

    If the seller won't deal with the fence, remember that it's currently a buyer's market and there are plenty of other deals out there now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    What you are seeing as a negative, is a strong positive. One should never try to place a fence "directly on" the property line, as then you have no access to the other side of your fence should the need arise, and you also prevent anyone else from being able to tie into your fence. My dad always set back our fences 3-5 ft. from the actual line, and this has come up numerous times when neighbors think they can tie into our fence. 4 feet is also adequate to plant trees and / hedges on the other side of the fence, but still be on your property should the need arise to block some unsightly view.

    Don't confuse fence lines with property lines. Fences placed well back from the property line are wisely placed. Don't know what else you are dealing with, but this fence placement is an asset, not a liability.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    357

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    Quote Quoting roxolo
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    What you are seeing as a negative, is a strong positive. One should never try to place a fence "directly on" the property line, as then you have no access to the other side of your fence should the need arise, and you also prevent anyone else from being able to tie into your fence. My dad always set back our fences 3-5 ft. from the actual line, and this has come up numerous times when neighbors think they can tie into our fence. 4 feet is also adequate to plant trees and / hedges on the other side of the fence, but still be on your property should the need arise to block some unsightly view.

    Don't confuse fence lines with property lines. Fences placed well back from the property line are wisely placed. Don't know what else you are dealing with, but this fence placement is an asset, not a liability.
    Odd reasoning. By keeping your fence 4' inside your property, you are effectively cutting yourself off from use of that portion of your property. Why would one want to do that? If you are going to place a hedge in that space, that negates your argument about leaving room for maintenance. It will be taken up by a hedge which will limit your physical ability to access the far side of the fence.

    If a neighbor wants to tie into my fence, fine, no problem. Just don't damage it. Oh, and by tying in to my fence, they are now showing that they are using my fence to enclose their property, which under the laws of many state, makes them equally responsible for it's maintenance from that point forward.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    Quote Quoting eapls2708
    View Post
    Odd reasoning. By keeping your fence 4' inside your property, you are effectively cutting yourself off from use of that portion of your property. Why would one want to do that? If you are going to place a hedge in that space, that negates your argument about leaving room for maintenance. It will be taken up by a hedge which will limit your physical ability to access the far side of the fence.

    If a neighbor wants to tie into my fence, fine, no problem. Just don't damage it. Oh, and by tying in to my fence, they are now showing that they are using my fence to enclose their property, which under the laws of many state, makes them equally responsible for it's maintenance from that point forward.
    As someone said, it all depends on your situation. If you want to have your fence inside your hedge, trees, plantings and you still want to have access to maintain your fence, you need to have your fence off the line and leave room for a hedge. Again, if the fence is on the line, this is not an option for you.

    Is this a decorative fence or a fence with purpose? I raise horses, and no way no how is it fine if someone ties into the fence. Plenty of ignorant folks move out to the country and want to have a horse. They don't understand that horses can't share a fence; studs have to be separated by a gap. Otherwise, you've got a injured or dead horse and a destroyed fence.

    Keep in mind that if you are sharing a fence, your neighbor's idea of maintenance and your idea of maintenance may differ. And if so, you won't have access to the other side to do anything, maintenance, hedge, etc. And neighbors change, so a great neighbor may tie in this year, but next year or 5 years from now you could have a nightmare sharing that fence. That's why fences should be set back from the line. You mitigate your damages no matter what happens across the line. I love having trees, plantings and land on the other side of the fence, and I've had 2 neighbors rather dismayed when they found out the fence is not the line and they can't tie into my fence or cut the beautiful trees my family has planted and allowed to grow for decades. I even made a pig pen on the other side of my fence when a new city slicker moved in and rudely cut some of our trees. You should have seen the look on his face when he found out that fence is set back 12 feet from the line leaving ample room for the nice long hog run I created with a smaller electric fence that I placed 1 foot off the line! He was going to build close to the property line. His new construction site magically moved over 100 feet off the line literally overnight! But I am in a rural area with livestock and a lot of land and that may not apply to your situation. If I lived in a more urban area, though, I would think having set backs for fences would be even better, but your opinion seems different.

    Fences make good neighbors. And fences properly and responsibly set back from the line make even better neighbors (and fences).

    If this fence being 4 feet off the line is already a sticking point now and you haven't even lived there, imagine how much worse it is going to be for you after you move in. Sounds like this may not be the house for you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    666

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    A lot depends on where you are, what the local customs are, and how you deal with the situation. I now live in a city in California in which pretty much all fences are boundary fences on or close to the property line. I grew up in the country where fences were for a purpose, most often not related directly to marking the boundary.

    I believe that the main issue is what you want and how you deal with the situation. If the 4 feet in question reduces the usable part of your yard and you want it available, the fence would need to be moved to the boundary and you should insist that the seller deal with this before you buy.

    If you are happy with the yard as is and don't mind the position of the fence such that you can access both sides of the fence from your own property, you need to maintain the property on the other side of the fence as your own. If you just abandon the property on the other side of the fence, you are effectively giving to the neighbor, losing any advantage that there may be in having access to both sides of the fence. And, over time the neighbor may attempt to assert that it is theirs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    arizona
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Fence is Before the Property Line

    Quote Quoting Scott67
    View Post
    If you just abandon the property on the other side of the fence, you are effectively giving to the neighbor, losing any advantage that there may be in having access to both sides of the fence. And, over time the neighbor may attempt to assert that it is theirs.
    Just curious. Because someone puts up a fence inside their property line by 4' means that they are giving the neighbors that 4' of their property? How does that work? My front yard isn't fenced, but that doesn't mean that anyone else has the right to walk on my property or erect anything there since it isn't fenced - does it?

    And if the neighbor tries to assert that the 4' is theirs don't they have to have the property surveyed to prove it's theirs?

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