Neighbor has never made adverse possession claim as far as we know
The hedge is clearly outside of their straight property line (on our side)
It is unclear if the neighbor "thinks" he owns the property or shrubs or not
Nothing is noted on title or legal description
Without a doubt, fix this before you buy the property. The previous posts have addressed Adverse Possession. Perhaps a relevant fact is, how important is the property line and the hedge? If you are planning to keep as-is, you can likely work something out with neighbor, if you are planning to remove the hedge and install a fence on the property line that raises a different issue. No offense to any real estate brokers, but this is a situation where you should consult an attorney.
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If you have not closed you should demand the seller establish the line or get "extended title insurance". If you have closed get a survey. The hedge is yours but the neighbor still may claim it is theirs. Don't buy a problem make the seller fix it.
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I agree with Mr. Alexander that you should make the seller fix this problem. After all, you are paying the seller for clear title, so you should get what you pay for.
If the neighbor has maintained the hedge in that location for at least 10 years, then the neighbor likely has an adverse possession claim regardless of what he might think or have intended--in Washington, intent/knowledge of the true boundary line isn't required to establish adverse possession. So I agree with the previous responses--before you buy the property, tell the Seller and ask that it be remedied--but keep in mind also there is a good chance the deal will simply get cancelled and you won't get the property. There is really no way, short of full cooperation by the neighbor, for the Seller to fix the problem in 30-60 days. Be sure to consider whether the loss of the 3 feet of property is a dealbreaker for you, or if you might want to use it simply to negotiate a lower price.
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My question is whether the hedge just grew over the line or the roots are actually planted over the line. It is possible that you may be able to just trim the part of the hedge that overhangs.
Otherwise, I agree with all other posts. A survey should be done and recorded-before closing. You can have your attorney contact the neighbor to determine whether they believe the hedge is planted or on their property or they believe it belongs on the property for sale. Your sellers may also have information on this and will likely have to sign an affidavit at closing regarding whether any boundary issues are present.
If you do not have an attorney to represent you for this purchase, you absolutely should have one. Your attorney can investigate all of the zoning, building, land records, surveys, etc regarding this and ensure that you have clear title.
The information provided is general in nature and is not meant to be legal advice or counsel. It is not specific to any particular state and providing this information does not constitute legal representation or an attorney-client relationship.
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