Shangri La

Shangri La

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lawyers and Easements

Soon after a sale contract was drawn up, I realized I probably should have a lawyer. I was a little fuzzy on what he/she would do, given that I wasn't selling a property to buy this one. I figured the seller's attorney would handle most of the work.

The attorney I had used for the recent sale of Connecticut home appreciated my thinking of him, but suggested that I really needed a Vermont lawyer for a Vermont property. He was too nice to add 'moron', but he probably thought it.

I googled lawyers in the Shangra-La area, and called one at random. He sounded like a friendly and knowledgeable guy, and I figured my search was over until he said, "Wait a minute, what street is the land on?" He turned out to be the attorney representing the seller. What are the odds? (Probably pretty good, actually; Vermont has one of the smallest populations in the union.)

A few calls later and I was set. Turns out my attorney would review the contract, do the title search, calculate the closing costs, and make sure the purchase is registered with the appropriate authorities. All for about $1,000, which seemed to be the going rate. And she'd look into one other thing...

There as a single power line cutting across the western corner of the land, apparently feeding the neighbor at the top of the hill to the north. The property - wooded everywhere else - had been cleared on either side of the line. The realtor dug up an easement for Central Vermont Public Service Corporation that had been granted in 1996, but the language seemed vague. Did the presence of the easement mean that CVPS could replace the current (rather unobtrusive) line with 100' transmission towers in the future?

I had contacted CVPS and was informed that the right-of-way had been defined when the line first went up. At only 50 feet wide, it would limit CVPS's possibilities in the future, though they could string more lines on the existing poles. Furthermore, CVPS had the right to clear the property annually of any trees or branches within the easement's boundaries. As we had suspected, the power line was for the neighbor.

My lawyer did some checking and confirmed the information I had received. She felt that I was unlikely to have problems in the future. Having an easement on the property wasn't optimal, but it didn't seem that big a deal, either, and we decided to move forward.