Wednesday, November 16, 2016

13506 Hartland in Valley Village just closed, no thanks to a particular developer

My listing at 13506 Hartland just closed. Although we received an offer on the house right away, a property developer almost ruined the sale.  Backstory: As most folks in L.A. know, there are condo and apartment projects going up all over.  An 8-unit building is being constructed behind and to the west of the Hartland house.

Early one morning after the house listed, I received a call from my seller.  “The contractors behind us just tore down my back wall.” Yep, without notice or permission.  Mercifully, it was not the entire back wall.  The next door neighbor had it worse – they tore down his entire back wall without obtaining permission or giving him advance notice.

The developer told my client that his survey showed a six-inch difference in the lot line, to his advantage of course, and this is why he tore down the fences. It’s highly unlikely that there is a true boundary dispute -- the entire suburban tract neighborhood was laid out, and built, in the 1950’s by the same people. The lot sizes are all very similar and there has never been a lot line dispute in the neighborhood.

But anyway, the back walls were already gone at this point, so it was late in the game to have a new survey done.  An attorney we consulted said a boundary dispute would take 2 years and cost over $1000.  The neighbor called the city building inspector who had approved the permit.  He never heard back.  (To my knowledge, he tried the same person several times and never heard back.) 

The neighbor and my client spoke to the developer and contractor (who is also a dentist) and they worked out this: the developer would put up a new cinderblock wall where the old ones had been.  They would also use the old fence to create a boundary for my clients’ safety while the project was completed.  They would not tear out a tree on the disputed boundary.

So where’s/what’s the problem with the sale? We already had a buyer for the property, and now the sellers and I had to disclose that there may or may not be a lot line dispute. No buyer wants to buy property where contractors can claim portions of it don’t belong to the property.  No buyer wants to know that their new neighborhood is going to be overrun by rogue developers. Our buyers were quite concerned and worried about this issue, and the escrow teetered. They attempted to do their own due diligence, but it takes time to get a full survey. They asked for some of the negotiated sales price back.  We gave it back rather than have to go through this again with another buyer.  And the cinderblock wall is completed.

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