A recent transaction has highlighted the importance of searching and examining encumbrances, especially easements. In the sale of a family home, an easement – one of two noted on the title – went unnoticed by the buyers’ real estate agent, leading to all kinds of unnecessary stress for both the buyers and the seller.
Easements, which grant the right to use a piece of land to a person or company who isn’t the land-owner, are noted on the Certificate of Title. They often refer to external documents that can be obtained through another search, but in this case, the buyers’ real estate agent only searched for the second easement – and not the first. Because of this, the buyers and seller were initially unaware that there was more than one easement.
Only after the offer became unconditional did their agent discover the other easement, belonging to the Water Corporation. The buyers’ representative contacted me at Residential Settlements and told me that the buyers were worried that part of a structure might be built over the newly-discovered easement.
Once alerted to the issue, I asked the seller to bring in plans of the house, which revealed that only one pillar of a pergola was located on top of the easement. After contacting the Water Corporation, the buyers gained assurance that any work that needed to be done within the easement could be done even with the pillar. The buyers’ fears were allayed and settlement was later completed.
Had the buyers received a copy of both easements (and this had been noted on the offer and acceptance), last-minute stress would have been avoided – and the seller’s real estate agent would not have risked damaging their reputation.
If you’re an agent, be sure to research any and all easements thoroughly and disclose their existence to the buyer, seller, and settlement agent. If in doubt, speak with your principal – or give one of us here at Residential Settlements a call on (08) 9459 0044.
If you’re buying or selling a property and you’re concerned about easements, ask your real estate agent about any concerns you may have before the offer has become unconditional.