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The North 5 Acres

half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member

A portion of the North 5 acres of the SE of the SW, lying east of the highway. Where is the south line? How big is the lot?

A slightly non-standard description, but I get a long skinny parcel 165 x 1320, cut by a highway and now somewhat smaller than 5 acres, more like 3.6 acres.

The adjoiner's survey more than a decade ago had as part of the legal, "except for the North 5 acres lying east of the highway" and apparently used a lot making tool to slide the south line until clients lot (the excepted one) was 5 acres on paper, then wrote new legals and sold the rest.

So client owns less on paper by description than 5 acres, yet adjoiner's surveyor staked the ends of the line that would assume client's parcel is 5 acres, and adjoiner then sold based on that portrayal. Client just bought the place as 5 acres, county has it on their tax map as 5 acres. If there is a gap, the former adjoiner still owns it? In a "no-gaps" world who owns it? How would my client make sure they had proper title to it, if they had any title to something outside their described aliquot part based on an old survey?

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Topic starter Posted : April 26, 2022 7:20 pm
holy cow
(@holy-cow)
10,000+ posts Member

Punctuation.  Spelling.  Grammar.  Put them together correctly or mayhem may ensue.  This is a prime example of saying one thing when something else is more likely to be the intent.

Start by tracing the chain of title in the SE of the SW.

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Posted : April 26, 2022 8:13 pm
Bill93
(@bill93)
5,000+ posts Member

Ambiguity should be held against the grantor, in favor of the grantee.

Is there any indication on the ground of reliance on those staked corners? I.e., acceptance by both parties of the survey?

Given only what you posted, I would find it hard to argue for the smaller area.

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Posted : April 27, 2022 5:10 am

Norm Miller
(@norm)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @half-bubble

The adjoiner's survey more than a decade ago had as part of the legal, "except for the North 5 acres lying east of the highway"

Except the N 5 acres of what ?   The 40 or the 160 ?  If it was the 40 wouldn't the 10 yr. old survey be partly in the adjacent 40? Anyway the survey was apparently made to show the intent and that along with the other things stated seem to support it. A corrective deed may be in order. Your clients deed should have the same wording as the deed from which it was cut with the words "the north 5 acres of .....added" 

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Posted : April 27, 2022 6:41 am
MightyMoe
(@mightymoe)
5,000+ posts Supporter

Words hold meaning, I would say you're correct that east of the highway is something less than 5 acres. I don't see how you can convert "that portion of the north 5 acres of the SE4SW4 lying east of the highway" into "the north 5 acres of that portion of the SE4SW4 lying east of the highway" two very different meanings.

You have to honor the intent of the grantor. 

I would chat with the new owner's title people and see if it can be resolved with a quit claim deed from the recent grantors of the south parcel.

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Posted : April 27, 2022 8:26 am
Dave Karoly
(@dave-karoly)
10,000+ posts Member

If the same Grantor sold all the lots then I would say the ambiguity has been resolved in favor of the North 5 acres east of the road. It’s reasonable, a lay person seeing that description would expect to receive 5 acres.

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Posted : April 27, 2022 8:46 am
R.J. Schneider, Kevin Hines, MightyMoe and 2 people liked

half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member
Posted by: @dave-karoly

If the same Grantor sold all the lots then I would say the ambiguity has been resolved in favor of the North 5 acres east of the road. It’s reasonable, a lay person seeing that description would expect to receive 5 acres.

Client definitely wants his whole 5 acres. Haven't found a clear indication of a common grantor in deeds, however, just found a clue about the common grantor via a highway right-of-way take from 1971.

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Topic starter Posted : April 27, 2022 1:08 pm
half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member

There has been a long trail of grantors and grantees, and, although I cannot read their minds now or retroactively, it would seem they all thought they could develop the 5 acres and make a short plat with multiple houses and then gave up and sold it when they discovered that the wetlands make most of it unbuildable.

 

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Topic starter Posted : April 27, 2022 2:53 pm
half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member
Posted by: @mightymoe

I don't see how you can convert "that portion of the north 5 acres of the SE4SW4 lying east of the highway" into "the north 5 acres of that portion of the SE4SW4 lying east of the highway" two very different meanings.

This seems to be the lesson of the whole thing. Someone did. The difference is, if we hold the road and the aliquot parts implied, it's 3.6 something acres. Feather in our aliquot parts cap for noticing at all. There is evidence across the road that someone owned the aliquot remainder across the road and then sold it with a new abitrary line turning a 90 to the road where the aliquot line hits the center line of the right of way.

I'm seeing it as a mistake that became a parcel. Everyone since 2005 has been paying taxes on the whole 5 acres. The presumed south line of the 5 acres that oozed over from across the road has been staked and recorded since 2005.  Done deal, even though it's wrong, it's right.

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Topic starter Posted : April 27, 2022 4:07 pm

holy cow
(@holy-cow)
10,000+ posts Member

"A portion of the North 5 acres of the SE of the SW, lying east of the highway. Where is the south line? How big is the lot?" copied from the OP.

The words above lead me to take the North 5 acres of the SE of the SW first, then apply "A portion" to mean only that part of it lying east of the highway.

Rearrange it to say, "The North 5 acres of a tract lying on the east of the highway AND being in the SE of the SW." and you know the intent is to have a tract containing 5 acres east of the highway taken from the northernmost portion of the SE of the SW.

Let's eat, Grandma. vs Let's eat Grandma.

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Posted : April 27, 2022 7:01 pm
half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member

There is a patent in 1892 for the entire SE 1/4 of the SW 1/4. Might not be the common grantor we are looking for, but gives a name to bring forward from 1892 while we look backwards from 1972, our current oldest clue.

The other new discovery is that the same title company is insuring both sides of the line, so they could cut to the chase internally.

 

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Topic starter Posted : August 5, 2022 6:32 pm
half bubble
(@half-bubble)
500+ posts Member

I reckon I got this one figured out, or at least a plausible narrative. Nothing wrong with the title as it stands, just that they own a little more, because of how everyone going way back has been paying taxes on the vacant land excess created by leaving the phrase "that portion of" out of the Assessor's description all these years, making it "The North 5 Acres of the NE of the NW lying East of the county road."

The goofy tax descriptions can take on a life of their own in two ways: One is if the property is foreclosed upon by the county and sold with the erroneous description. The other is if the county taxes vacant land by the description and a grantee / vendee with an adjacent deed description is taxed on the area for seven years. If someone else with title also pays the taxes even for one year it nullifies the equitable title, otherwise, after 7 years the party being taxed for the vacant land should be adjudicated for. Might unique to Washington State. Also unique in that it comes under the heading of adverse possession but does not require any action or occupation, only that the land has been continuously vacant and taxed. Can't be applied against the Federal Gov't or the State, someone under 18, or someone conserved. Which could be sticky because the land was sold to the City by the estate of a guy who had been conserved, but the taxes had been long past seven years paid at that point.

My narrative will probably explain that the adjoiner's estate had apparently lost it long ago to the tax description and the taxes, and the title company probably also knew, so when the adjacent parcel was surveyed for a sale, the surveyor used the tax description version of the 5 acres rather than the deed, which to date has not yet been updated to make the equitable title into written title. My client who is upset about "not getting his whole 5 acres" in his deed needs to take my survey and move forward with some kind of adverse possession or quiet title action.

Gonna send the client a bill for ten grand now and take a month off to cut firewood.

 

 

 

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Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2022 1:51 pm

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