Buying Land

Buyers: Don’t be too nice

My wife, Melissa, is one of two lawyers in our county. She does a lot of dirt law–rural real estate. She’s also the part-time Commonwealth Attorney, who has been perfecting her prosecutorial technique on me for years.

She told me this morning that buyers can be too nice. This comes from a woman who introduced herself to me as someone who was “nice as pie” and “friendly as a pup.”

A couple from the city–highly educated folks–bought a place out here some years ago. The seller told them that a pond they liked was on the property. They had a survey, which had no physical features and was not marked on the ground. They didn’t walk the boundaries or have a surveyor map the property on a topographical map.

The pond turned out to be not on their property.

The buyers accepted the word of the seller and the confirming opinion of the real-estate agent. They didn’t want to appear to question the truthfulness or accuracy of either one. They wanted to be nice. They didn’t do their homework. The statute of limitations has run out.

The lesson here is: do the research necessary to confirm what you’ve been told and what you think you know.

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About the author

Curtis Seltzer

Curtis Seltzer is a land consultant, columnist and author of How To Be a DIRT-SMART Buyer of Country Property, available at where his columns are posted. He also does commentary for Virginia public radio. His new book, Land Matters: The “Country Real Estate” Columns, 2007-2009, which includes 14 commentaries on CD.

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