The Importance of Property Descriptions
currently have a case that prompts me to write about one of the basic
elements of real estate contracting - the legal description of the
property. Here are the facts.
A developer plats a new subdivision for Happy Acres in Plat Book 500 at
Page 10, and starts selling lots. In both the MLS and all
contracts, the listing broker identifies each lot as "Lot #, Happy Acres
Subdivision," and does not include a reference to the plat book and
page. During construction of homes, the developer must alter the
boundaries of three lots in order to provide enough room for the
driveway on Lot 101. To do so, she records an amended plat in Plat
Book 500 at Page 72.
Over the next couple of months, the developer, using her broker's
descriptions, contracts to sell Lots 99, 100, and 101. The lots
close in the following order with the following descriptions:
"Lot 101, Plat Book 500 at Page 72" - the new plat
"Lot 99, Plat Book 500 at Page 10" - the old plat
"Lot 100, Plat Book 500 at Page 72" - the new plat.
The result is that Lots 99 and 100 overlap by three feet. The
listing broker initiated this problem with a lack of precision in the
listing and contracting descriptions. Neither the selling brokers
nor the developer's or buyers' attorneys for Lots 99 and 100 caught the
problem. There are now pending title insurance claims, possible
litigation, and possible reports to broker and attorney malpractice
The listing broker could have avoided this problem for all parties by
using a plat book and page reference instead of the name of the
subdivision. I suggest you, as brokers, pay very careful attention
to the property descriptions in contracts when listing or making an
In the next issue, I will address the legal reliability of various
property descriptions under North Carolina law.
not hesitate to contact me to receive more information on this topic or
to suggest topics for future editions of 'A Legal Moment'. You may not
rely on this content as legal advice for any specific situation, but
should instead contact an attorney for specific advice.