All About Lot Line Adjustments
The lot line adjustment process allows land to be taken away from one parcel and added on to an adjoining parcel. No new legal parcels are created. The law does allow for parcels to be eliminated. For example, 3 parcels could be combined into two parcels by a lot line adjustment process.
County or City approval is required. The City or County is limited to reviewing the resulting parcels for compliance with zoning requirements. A lot line adjustment cannot be made subject to conditions of approval. Nevada County does prohibit lot line adjustments that would allow a new parcel to be created. For example, it may be a problem to add 1 acre to a 9 acre parcel (making 10 acres), if the minimum lot size is 5 acres, because the land could then be divided. We can help you evaluate this situation. However, if both parcels being adjusted are below the minimum lot size, then the adjustment will probably be allowed. The Cities and Counties are continually updating ordinances, so the rules change from time to time.
The lot line adjustment procedure involves preparing a sketch map showing the proposed lot line adjustment and processing it through the County to get permission to proceed with the change. If the lots are improved, then the approximate locations of buildings, wells, septic systems and other improvements must be shown.
In planning a lot line adjustment, it is important to consider the practical aspects of the change. Does it make sense for the existing or future building sites? Will wells and septic systems still work alright? Will all utilities be available to both parcels? Should new easements for access and utilities be established for future use?
Once approved by the City or County, the lot line adjustment must be completed with a grant deed, or exchange of grant deeds where applicable. The parcel(s) exchanged must be "free and clear" of any financing. If financing is involved, we suggest that you work with a title company to help adjust the financing lines through partial reconveyances and/or deed of trust modification. When the deed(s) record, any mortgage lines must be adjusted to match the new property lines. Some mortgage companies charge a fee to make changes in the documents. If the estimate that we provided did not include an allowance for title fees and mortgage company fees, you should look into these costs.
Nevada County now requires that all property taxes for the parcels affected be paid in advance before the lot line adjustment is completed. After January 1st, three installments of taxes would have to be paid, ordinarily due in April, December, and April of the following year.
It is not mandatory that we set new corner markers and prepare a new survey map showing the parcels. Avoiding field surveying and mapping is the most economical way to proceed. However, there may be a practical need to survey the property and set permanent monuments at the new corners. The corner markers assure that both parties understand fully where the new line is located. As another example, a new home, fence, or other improvement might be planned following the adjustment. Sometimes people avoid the expense during the lot line adjustment and have a survey done later when the need is more pressing.
Getting the County or City’s approval usually takes between 2 and 3 months, depending on the jurisdiction’s procedures. If no survey is required, the deeds can usually be prepared and filed within another month. If a map is prepared and corner monuments are set, then the completion time goes up to about 2 months. So overall, plan on between 4 and 5 months to complete the process.
In order to proceed with providing these services, we request that you sign a standard work agreement as our authorization. We will bill you monthly for our services according to our prevailing professional fee schedule. The costs are expected to be within 10% of our overall budget, if one has been provided. We typically pay City/County filing fees directly and bill them to you. You would pay directly any title company or mortgage company fees. We will notify you if something comes up that will change costs.
Completing a lot line adjustment may change the property taxes that one or both parties pay. You can contact the Nevada County (or your county’s) Assessor’s Office for additional information on how the adjustment might affect your overall appraised value.
We are happy to provide an estimate for lot line adjustments and to answer your questions at any time. Please contact Andy Cassano at our office.