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CEO’S Corner October 2020

joe crutchfield
Joe Crutchfield, CEO of Investors Title

If someone would have told me in March that business would be as great as it’s been these past months, I don’t think I would have believed them. Nonetheless, business has been very good and we are grateful for that.

We really are fortunate that we have such wonderful clients. So thanks for your business, your support, and also your cooperation during a year that has had a lot of twists and turns in the midst of a high volume of transactions. 

In addition, I’m really pleased with our employees for the job they have done during this very challenging year. I feel proud to be in the industry we are in and to work with the dedicated people at ITC.

When Easements Are the Solution

Ok, so here’s the question: “Is an easement the best way to solve an encroachment that shows up on a buyer’s survey?” The answer is a resounding, definitive, quite certain, carved in stone “it depends”.  

Although an easement in some form is most often the “go-to” solution for resolving an encroachment, there are circumstances where the option of an easement should be carefully considered (and maybe discarded). The buyer needs to understand how an easement might affect their use of the property after closing as well as their ability to sell the property in the future. An easement, generally, is considered “permanent” because it “runs with the land”. In other words, when an easement of any type is properly executed and recorded, it remains in effect no matter who owns the property going forward.   

So, if a survey shows the adjoining owner encroaching onto the seller’s property, is a permanent easement the best solution for the buyer? Many would say no, and I would once again say “it depends.” 

Let’s say the neighbor’s fence encroaches one foot onto the seller’s property. In this instance, maybe a license agreement would be better for the buyer rather than an easement. A license agreement is a personal agreement that does not “run with the land” and, as a result, is revocable.  But what a license does is maintain the status quo and in my experience, the buyer and neighbor are usually happy with that solution. 

But, what if the adjoiner’s use of the seller’s property is for access to their property, and it is a situation that has been in place for 20 years but with no easement of record providing for the rights and obligations of the parties?  An easement in some form is probably appropriate here in my view. The use has been going on for a long time so the neighbor would most likely strongly resist any alterations to his/her use. The parties, then, need a document that states what their rights are and that provides for things like maintenance and maybe even liability.

In the end, each real estate transaction is unique, just as each property and every buyer and seller is different.  Accordingly, each problem that comes up on a deal needs to be analyzed in the context of that deal because the reliance on “one size fits all” or formulaic solutions can result in bad or unintended results for customers.

Right about now I had planned to give you a clever or inspirational or humorous or profound quote that highlighted the varied wonders of the fall season and its place in our lives and the world, but all of the ones I came up with or could dig up were just awful.

So I will spare you that pain and simply say be thankful for what you have, take pride in what you do, and have a great fall season. Thanks so much for subscribing to our newsletter. 

If you’re ready to talk with an Investors Title team member about your title insurance or closing services needs, get in touch today.