Some hard realities are emerging in our pursuit of the house with the beautiful back yard. It has been a whirlwind of activity for acting on due diligence for the purchase and sale. We’ve had a home inspection, and a solar evaluation. We’ve discovered a few moderate-sized challenges–we’ll have to replace the roof before we can install solar panels.  We’ll have to prune a large tree whose branches hang over the roof.

But perhaps the worst came yesterday, when our realtor called to say that in looking closer at the deed and the page on which it was registered, it appeared that not all the land that seemed to belong to this property actually belongs to it.  There is a Portland Water District parcel that runs next to the land, and it takes up part of the space that was being occupied by the current owners.

We feel angry and betrayed that the sellers never disclosed this information.  In the listing photos and in the placement of some children’s playground equipment, we were led to believe that this property went up to the neighbor’s fence.  But in reality the larger part of the side yard belongs to the PWD.  I remembered that there had been the remnants of a little fence from the front corner of the house over to the neighbor’s fence that had been removed except for the posts.  We are guessing that the realtor suggested they take down the fence because it wasn’t legal, but who knows?

We went to the property today to do some of our own measurements, to see where the boundaries really are, and to try to decide if, with this new information, we still want to choose this property.  We really don’t like the underhanded aspects of real estate–the attempts get the best deal you can, even if you play dirty.  Our own values say, be honest, let it be fair to all involved. We are so glad our realtor shares those values, and also that he is so conscientious and went the extra mile to discover these discrepancies.

Red boundary flag, photo by Margy Dowzer

Our red boundary flag

When we did the rough measurements we discovered that the actual front boundary of the property stops about even with the side of the house, and then slants back to the left, away from the house, directly through the play equipment. The big tree, and the neighbors fence too, by the way, are all on PWD land.  We spent a long time in the yard, trying to sort out our feelings about it all.  We still need some more information from the water district. It seems that all the neighborhood properties are currently encroaching on their land.  There is a 20-inch, 101-year-old water main that runs on their land, fortunately toward the other side of it. But will they be tearing it all up to replace or repair in the next twenty or thirty years?

What we’ve learned in this process is that the privacy of this back yard is vulnerable. Along with this water district land, there is a paper road that is undeveloped at the back of the land, that may never be developed, or will it?  On the plus side, all of it expands the sense of space that one feels there.  But on the other hand, will there be future changes over which we have no control? We’ll try to get more information on Monday. We have until Tuesday to withdraw.  But for now, we are still feeling a connection to the land, even tender toward its neglected needs.  In the undeveloped areas off the back edges, there are invasive vines and bittersweet.  One of the values of permaculture is to bring healing to the land. We feel good about that. Please send us prayers for clarity, and the revealing of important truths.

All this is PWD owned land.

All this is PWD owned land.  Photos by Margy Dowzer.


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