Re: Partially Removed a Fence that Neighbor Claims is His - Must We Repair It
JK, as a realtor you were in the minority with respect to advising your clients to have a survey performed. In some areas, it might come out of the realtor's commission. In my area, either the buyer or the seller contracts directly with the surveyor. The realtor can't legally act as a go between. But my experience is that most realtors would choose to forego the survey because the buyers are often stretching the limits of what they can afford in the first place and/or the seller is unwilling to pay for the survey. Rather than factoring the cost of a survey in when assisting their client in negotiating price, as they would the mandated standard inspections, it is either an afterthought or an estimated cost that is about 1/4 to 1/10 of a reasonable estimate is plugged in as a placeholder. Once they actually look into real estimates from surveyors, they usually advise that it's not necessary because fences, utility poles, etc. appear to be "pretty close".
Shamity, the costs you are liable for on the fence are the replacement costs of a fence of like materials and the cost of labor to put it in. As long as you and your husband provide workmanship as good as an average fencebuilder, you can save a lot there. But you can't buy serviceable used materials of the type the previous fence was made of. You have no choice but to figure in the costs of new materials. Since there is no practical way to assess the value of the old fence as it stood in place, there is no sense in trying. If the fence was doing it's job, you are liable for the costs of building a similar fence capable of doing it's job. If the fence was largely fallen down and not doing it's job, you might be able to argue that it was of no value. But as long as it was standing, that argument isn't really available to you.
Hopefully your neighbor won't object to your putting up the type of fence you want and will find it an acceptable replacement.
Tell your aunt that the surveyors (and at least one former RE agent) are collectively scowling and wagging our finger at her for making a representation she should know better about making.
Here is a potential downside to your replacing the fence without the benefit of a survey. If at some point in the future, you do have a survey performed, and it shows this fence to be on your lot, your neighbor's attorney might succesfully argue that you acquiesced to (agreed to as evidenced by your actions) the line at the fence location and that it overrides the line of written title as a properly performed survey would locate it. I know you said money is tight, and I understand that, but I would be remiss if I did not advise you to have the line located by survey before replacing the fence.
I'm a surveyor, not your surveyor & not an attorney.
Advice is general survey, not legal. Hire a local professional for specific advice.