Common Real Estate Issues in Clatsop County

For buyers interested in purchasing property in Clatsop County, there are a number of common issues to be aware of when evaluating properties. Below, we cover the top five issues which come up again and again for buyers on the north coast.

Property Line Issues

Buyers should always consider either having the property surveyed or at least have a surveyor mark the property corners, so that they have a sense of where the property lines are actually located.

Buyers commonly assume that property lines are located based on such landmarks as fences, walls, landscaping, and natural contours of the land. However, this is not necessarily the case. Even if there has been a survey in the past, it is not always clear where the property lines are actually located when viewing the property in person, particularly if the property stakes are difficult to find.

Buyers should walk the property, take pictures, and view the property with curiosity. They should consider walking the property with a surveyor who has either surveyed the property, has located the markers, and/or can help the buyers interpret and understand what a survey which has already been done actually means. In addition to reviewing their title report and speaking to their realtor and title officer, buyers can use such resources as Clatsop Webmaps to do research on their desired property.

Neighbor Issues

Unexpected neighbor issues discovered by buyers after their purchase can be difficult to resolve. While not foolproof, there are a number of steps buyers can take to do some basic research when buying a property.

If feasible, buyers should consider talking to the current owners, as well as their future neighbors. In this way, buyers may learn facts and circumstances that only the owner and actual neighbors know. Additionally, when walking around the property, buyers should walk the perimeter and look for areas of potential confusion or dispute, which may trigger additional due diligence to pursue.

Buyers can and should consider doing some basic research on the property itself, as well as neighboring properties. Buyers can check whether neighboring properties have any past due taxes, as a means to check whether neighbors keep up on their property; they can also get a sense of the neighborhood’s pride of ownership by politely examining how neighbors maintain their homes. One can also use local real estate records to identify owners and check whether neighbors have any past or pending criminal or civil cases in Oregon.

Finally, buyers can learn of any problem neighbors or properties by contacting the local police department and sheriff’s office and requesting police reports based on neighbors’ names and addresses, as well as contacting the local city (or county in the case of unincorporated communities) to learn whether there have been any noise complaints or other issues with a neighboring property.

Development Issues

While that vacant lot with the killer view, or value purchase which can be productively remodeled, can be attractive to buyers, they can and should do their due diligence on whether and how the property can be developed as they envision.

Buyers can contact the local government authority and check what development efforts have taken place in the past, as well as what restrictions or barriers may exist because of zoning ordinances or other regulations. Additionally, title research and review of local land use ordinances and regulations can help buyers understand what possibilities are available for their desired property.

Such research can also assist buyers with negotiations with sellers, so that buyers do not overpay for properties which have development restrictions or cannot be developed at all.

Landslide/Ground Movement Issues

Landslide and ground movement issues can pose a challenge on the north coast, particularly in Clatsop County. There are a variety of tools buyers can use to get to know their desired property and what issues may exist.

Geotechnical analysis by a geotechnical engineer can assist buyers and help them understand the nature and qualities of the land and what problems may exist. Maps available on the State of Oregon’s Statewide Landslide Information Database for Oregon (SLIDO) may also provide information about local landslide issues and similar issues; SLIDO is maintained by the State of Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (“DOGAMI”).

Additionally, old-fashioned common sense and patience can assist buyers viewing the property. However, buyers must be in the mindset of looking for clues of potential landslide and ground movement issues. Buyers should carefully examine any buildings on the property, including the foundation, crawlspace, and landscaping for indications of ground movement and how moisture drains. Cracked, buckling sidewalks and retaining walls, as well as uneven floors, can indicate the cumulative effects of long-term ground movement. Neighboring properties can offer similar clues, and where there are varying elevations, properties which are uphill and downhill can provide potential clues.

Sewer Line Issues

An underground sewer line can pose a problem where there is no recorded easement defining the affected property owners’ rights and responsibilities.

Disputes may arise when an underground sewer line needs to be repaired or replaced by one property owner, but an adjacent property owner refuses to provide access to the sewer line. At times, such disputes can become heated and result in legal threats and lawsuits as means to resolve the issues of whether and how a property can access an underground sewer line through a neighboring property owner’s property.

A sewer scope inspection can provide clues regarding the underground architecture of a property’s sewer line, including how the individual property’s sewer line connects to the public sewer system. Additionally, local government staff, as well a title search, can provide information on how a particular property’s sewer line connects to the public sewer system.

When you are buying a property in Clatsop County, you should feel comfortable that your team—your realtor and title officer—are helping you objectively evaluate whether each particular property is right for you. If there are issues which arise which would benefit from the help of a real estate attorney, you should consider hiring an attorney to help you evaluate any issues which may arise, so that you can make an informed decision.

If you would like help with real estate issues which have come up with your desired north coast property, please contact Coast Land Law for a consultation about how you can best protect your property rights.