Does seller owe buyer for part of land sold to city?
A: As we read your question, the real question in our mind is what exactly did you agree to buy? Did you agree to purchase a home on 0.6 of an acre or a half-acre? And, did you pay a price commensurate with the larger lot size or a smaller lot size? Even if your seller did sell the land to the city, once the water mains are installed and the landscaping is patched up, will anything be built on that land or will it seem like yours?
When buyers search for homes, they generally look for a certain type of home, with a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms. In urban areas, people tend to focus more on the home and less on the land on which it sits. As long as a home fits certain basic parameters, the exact size of the land is usually not a big issue.
Yes, you find some buyers who focus on a lot that is bigger, but a buyer usually focuses on seeing the home and the lot and appreciating how they feel more so than knowing that the buyer is getting a halfacre or 0.6 acre. If you were buying a lot to build a home, the exact dimensions of the land would be critical to know how big a house you could build on the property. But when you have an existing home on the land, the issue becomes less relevant.
In your situation, we’d argue that you might be a bit better off with the smaller parcel. You will only pay real estate taxes on the half-acre but still benefit from the rest of the land.
Presumably, the city purchased that land for its use in placing water pipes underground. In many similar situations, the land will remain open and will appear to be part of your property if you don’t put up fencing.
Don’t get us wrong. We know that land square footage and building square footage can be critical, but you haven’t given us any information that would lead us to believe that you were deceived or that you were expecting to get more land than you got.
Normally a real estate contract may state the size of the lot you are buying. In his practice, Sam usually sees residential contracts state the approximate area of land that is part of a deal. However, he has rarely ever seen a contract in which the exact square footage of the land being sold is a condition of the deal.
Finally, you’re asking to be compensated for a loss you may not have sustained. The home you purchased may have the same value with or without the strip of land sold to the city. If your contract did not contain a specific representation and obligation for the seller to convey a specific amount of land to you, you might be out of luck. You may want to talk to a real estate attorney to determine if you have any right against the seller and what your next course of action should be. Ilyce Glink is the CEO of Best Money Moves and Samuel J. Tamkin is a real estate attorney. Contact them through the website ThinkGlink.com.