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Mysterious unidentified easements pre sale

Discussion in 'The Buying & Selling Process' started by RumpledElf, 21st Jan, 2016.

  1. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    Just had an offer verbally accepted. Have to put it in subject to various things, but has anyone else had an experience where there's an easement on a block of land but nobody seems to know what it is, where it is, what the restrictions are, who put the easement there or ... well, anything?

    I've narrowed it down after OH GOD SO MANY phone calls that it belongs to NSW Railways but short of hiring a surveyor out - which I'm not going to do on land I don't own - I have no idea where this damn easement is and only have a vague idea of the restrictions.

    The property I am looking at is two adjacent vacant blocks. The easement is on the left one, which is not actually really possible to build on because of the contours combined with the easement. The second block is much clearer, flatter and has no easements. I'm inclined to let this slip and sign the contract regardless since I am only looking to build a small weekender, which will fit with no issues on the unencumbered block. And then I can put chickens and such on the other block :)
     
  2. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    It doesn't appear on the title search? It should show a list.
    A full one will show the plan of the block as well with markings for things like that.

    Might be different in NSW but here in SA that's what I'd do.
     
  3. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    There's no plan of the block. All it says is "easement for electricity purposes". It doesn't come up on dial before you dig and there's no wires visible on street view (there is a large pole behind the block but it doesn't seem to cross the block). There's no title plan lodged of the block with even proper dimensions marked let alone easements. This is my 7th purchase and the first time I've seen searches that don't have a plan of the block. And first time I've been given a hand-drawn plan of the general area dated 1865 instead of something done with something modern.

    Needless to say it is also completely unfenced so you can't even go stomping around based on existing fences.

    Having no luck whatsoever getting hold of NSW Railways ... sigh

    This is a case of you get what you pay for. The block is extremely cheap for the size and location, although not a complete outlier.
     
  4. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    I had a closer look at the paperwork I've been given, the last (handwritten) sale was March 18th 1919. It is the most gloriously awesome title I've seen for a long time, but so unhelpful!
     
  5. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    IANAL. If the details are that difficult to find, then how do you suppose the council will find them when you ask for building approval?
     
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  6. bmc

    bmc Well-Known Member

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    if it isnt fenced, how do you know what you are buying you may be looking at the wrong block

    i assume that you have been at least provided a copy of of the CT (Title) it may look like this (see below), but being 1865, i bet it is old system land so it may also say "Limited Title"

    look in the second schedule.
    does it have a dealing number next to the easement description. if so order this and it will contain the terms and possible a sketch showing the position.

    please note, i have found titles that has been in error and not listed a current easement. there are also other avenues to investigate but this is why you engage a professional, like a surveyor or solicitor to investigate these issues.

    regards,
    land surveyor

    Example:

    LAND
    ----
    LOT 1 IN DEPOSITED PLAN ####113
    LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA MOSMAN
    PARISH OF WILLOUGHBY COUNTY OF CUMBERLAND
    TITLE DIAGRAM DP###113
    FIRST SCHEDULE
    --------------
    CHARLES CITIZEN
    ANNE CITIZEN
    AS JOINT TENANTS
    SECOND SCHEDULE (4 NOTIFICATIONS)
    ---------------
    1 RESERVATIONS AND CONDITIONS IN THE CROWN GRANT(S)
    * 2 N517345 CAVEAT BY THE COUNCIL OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF MOSMAN
    * AC##### CAVEATOR CONSENTED
    3 AC##### MORTGAGE TO NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED
    NOTATIONS
    4. AE##???? 'EASEMENT FOR ELECTRICITY PURPOSES'
    ---------
    UNREGISTERED DEALINGS: NIL
     
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  7. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    I'm a complete novice here however have you looked at the Local Environment Plan on the NSW legislation website for whatever area it is in?

    I have looked at the Penrith LEP 2010 and trawled through the zoning maps a few times which include Land Reservation Aquisition Maps, and I believe the Zoning Maps show proposed rail corridors/roadways.
     
  8. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    Just found this if it helps:

    Railway electricity rights | Transport for NSW

    If you own or occupy land near railway electrical infrastructure, you may have legal obligations...

    Electricity rights
    The electrical infrastructure is governed by the NSW Electricity Supply Act 1995, the NSW Transport Administration Act 1988 and, in some circumstances, by easements and specific agreements with land owners. These collectively provide Sydney Trains with a legal right to access property to protect our electrical infrastructure.

    Access and maintenance
    Sydney Trains maintenance teams and authorised contractors have the right to access land to:

    • install, maintain and remove infrastructure above, below or on the surface of the land;
    • bring people, vehicles and equipment to the site to perform these activities;
    • remove structures that could interfere with the infrastructure, or become a fire or safety risk;
    • trim or remove trees and vegetation that could interfere with the infrastructure, or become a fire or safety risk; and
    • inspect antennas that could fall and hit our power lines.
    Sydney Trains are required to comply with specific procedures and obligations when exercising its right to access land.

    Your responsibilities
    You may be required to keep clear a 5 metre wide strip of land running the full length of the infrastructure (as a maintenance vehicle access road). You may also be prevented from placing obstructions within 5 metres of a power line, transformer, pole, equipment or support wire, or within 10 metres of a steel power line structure. Penalties may apply for interfering with railway electrical infrastructure.
     
  9. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    I have a broad map of the area and the block shapes are quite distinctive, you can pick them on street view, satellite view and the modern drainage plan from the council. Finding the *exact* edges, not a chance in hell, but within a couple metres, yes. Well, the left edge is distinctive as there is an old brick retaining wall but that's as good as it gets. Unfortunately these are suburb level maps and don't have the amount of detail I'd expect to see in a diagram in a contract of sale. I don't need to say that you can't do ANYTHING with these blocks before a proper survey.

    Actually yes, there is a number. Should I hit up the real estate agent to order another search? I'm actually starting to think the easement is because of the NSW rails power pole that is just behind the block and there's a radius around it, since no matter how I look there's nothing *crossing* the block but you can clearly see it running just behind it both on street view and satellite view. There is a very wide cleared road with the power poles in it just behind the back boundary, give or take. I hit the website that Tim & Chrissy posted above already and rang the number on there but just ended up being transferred about 10 times to different people who couldn't help me. One of them finally knew what an easement was and took the lot number to lodge a query on my behalf but of course I haven't heard back yet.

    I've just had a long talk to someone about BAL ratings too, and this is coming down to identifying the type of scrub growing in the strip of railway owned land behind the block.

    Randomly, if I buy the block and want to put in a proper fence along that boundary, I'm guessing I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting NSW railways to pay for half, right?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 4th Nov, 2016
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  10. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    There's a major rail line already in this town, there's a corridor of land running behind all the blocks on this part of the street that is probably owned by NSW railways. According to Endeavour Energy, it is a feeder line from a power plant to the railway.

    Other than this, its just a regular residential allotment with no particular restrictions other than being in the Blue Mountains (and thus will burn down if you look away during summer - it is in a bushfire zone) and being next to that power line.

    The major redeeming feature here is the price, although I've already had people on Facebook squawk at me it is so cheap because it is cold up there ... that's ok, I'll use the savings from not buying a Central Coast block to purchase a supply of thermal underwear.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 4th Nov, 2016
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  11. bmc

    bmc Well-Known Member

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    sure ask him provide as much info as you can get. if he wants to sell it, he may do it for free.

    high tension powerline easements can be very wide and its not unusual to include vehicle access rights.

    i have no experience with NSW transport and fencing obligations to pay half but be prepared for a few dollars in survey fees to mark the boundary. it can get complicated alongside rail corridors.
     
  12. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the Blue Mountains is a bad place to buy, the Upper Blue Mountains didn't see the huge price rises of Western Sydney so any correction should be a bit milder. Lower Mountains had some decent gains but again not as crazy and it's generally has better social demographics (A bit of Westie self-deprecation never hurt anyone :))
     
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  13. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    The survey is not going to be cheap, parts of the block are quite steep and 1350sqm isn't all that small. There should be survey markers around though, there is a new house 2 doors down. There's already a road along the power line that comes out on a side street about 200m away so at least there's no worry about leaving vehicle access.
     
  14. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    Went up there to check it out more closely and drop in on the real estate agent in person. There are guy wires from the pole that probably extend onto the block (hard to tell without a survey but seems reasonable). The block was very densely covered in all sorts of not-native vegetation.

    While we were in the real estate's office, someone else was there telling us all about this block of land he wanted to buy, and how he knew the owner. He said nobody else would buy it because it was so overgrown there'd be snakes. He said it would be worth triple the price in a year or two after it was cleaned up, and he was talking to the bank so he could buy it.

    Same block of land.
     
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  15. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    Have you checked the sold prices of similar size cleared blocks or knock down houses on similar blocks? Land, especially sloped land, has always been cheap in the mountains. I was previously looking at building a Clarendon home, I was told at the time that BM council is the strictest in terms of building to land ratio and house design (I was looking at a 2 storey build).

    If the land truly will be worth triple once cleared is there any reason why the current owner hasn't done it? Especially considering he has been trying to sell for an extended period?

    I know the survey is expensive but if there is something they aren't being up front about it could cost you a whole lot more if you buy it and can't do what you want, or worse, can't build on it at all.
     
  16. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    Just a small cautionary tale:

    I looked at a 5 acre farmlet in Llandilo surronded by houses in 2013. Wasn't part of the flood zone on the zoning maps but was in a bush fire zone (meaning building height was limited among other things)

    The agent advertised it as 'just submit your plans to council and build your dream home'. The block was a few 100k cheaper than others in the area and a significant amount less than what the current owner had paid for it 2 years prior. There was a very small creek bed running through the property which travelled through the block and off to one corner.

    The agent kept pushing me to speak to council whenever I asked if the current owner had submitted a DA.

    I spoke to council who told me while the property was not in the flood zone the block was affected by overland flow flooding.

    The creek was the overland flow and you could not fill it, or build within 40 metres of it. That 40 metre restriction meant you could not build at all on the block.

    The seller obviously hadn't done his DD and was hoping another sucker would come along and make the same mistake.
     
  17. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    It is already considerably cheaper than other blocks, including some at 3+ times the price which was probably what this guy was comparing to. The ones at 3+ times the price are flatter and in housing estates. It's never going to get that high unless you actually landscape the entire block around the buildable part - if you want a garage next to the house, you can only really build on this block very close to the street, in line with the new house next door.

    The block next door on the other side - same size, sloped all over not just on one half, has a 4m high retaining wall ALL THE WAY across the frontage - sold very recently for what I offered and makes this the simplest bank valuation ever. Another much smaller sloped block on the other side of town sold for a couple thousand more than my offer. There are other small flat blocks starting from only $15k more than my offer (although most start at close to double the price), I just don't really want a flat boring block in a housing estate, I want an interesting infill block I can pop a little weekender on. It's very cheap but not like it is cheaper than other sales by large orders of magnitude. It will never be worth a large amount simply because I want to build a very small eco-friendly house out of recycled stuff not a great big family home, and I'll never get that approved in a housing estate.

    Bear in mind I have a habit of buying very cheap and highly dubious properties, my last two PPoR's that I bought cost $25k and $65k. They tend to clean up really nicely once you work around the glaring flaws.

    I thought it was an amusing conversation though :)
     
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  18. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    Best thing is that at really low prices, the $5000 grant you get off stamp duty with the change being returned to you if stamp duty is less than $5k - well, you get a nice chunk of money back you can spend on clearing and surveying!

    Goddammit I'm a chronic cheapskate
     
  19. Tim & Chrissy

    Tim & Chrissy Well-Known Member

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    That sort of build will keep the council happy :)

    Are there any limits on distance you can build to the easement?
     
  20. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    I'm still trying to find out exactly what the easement is and what the restrictions are on it, which is kind of a major problem with this purchase. If the bloody thing was actually documented more detailed than "easement for electricity purposes" this thread wouldn't exist >.<