5 Common Wetland Mistakes … And How to Avoid Them
Real estate agents are charged with the task of helping buyers find the right property. First, they must find a parcel that not only fits all the purchaser’s needs, but also one they will continue to enjoy for years to come, without any unforeseen surprises — the types of surprises that make a buyer deeply regret the purchase.
For example, a buyer might purchase a beautiful parcel of land with open wood acreage for a reasonable price. They plan to build a sprawling, single level retirement home. One with an amazing view and picture window that captures it perfectly. But when applying for permits, they’re asked about wetlands. After hiring an expert, they find out that not only do wetlands exist, but also their presence makes the previous plan more difficult.
Real estate agents can help clients avoid these scenarios by fully understanding all aspects of the property before purchase. Here are a few tips for providing guidance.
- Get the town wetlands map, but don’t rely on it. Sometimes agents make the mistake of suggesting that clients obtain the wetlands map to understand if a wetland exists, and where its boundaries reside. But these documents are often outdated and inaccurate. So caution your client that it’s all right to get the map, but not to depend on it. They need more.
- Ask the right questions, before the purchase. Like the example above, some buyers are disappointed when their plans are foiled by the presence of wetlands. Help your buyer understand the benefits of asking the right questions upfront, and why simply reading the seller’s disclosure isn’t enough.
- Understand important disclosures. When reading the seller’s disclosure, it may indicate that the seller doesn’t have knowledge of the presence of a wetland. This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that wetlands don’t exist. Encourage the buyer to complete their own due diligence.
- Know land use considerations. Sometimes a wonderful property is sold “as is” with any defects. While a wetland isn’t technically considered a defect, it can certainly interfere with usage. Encourage the buyer to hire an expert when buying under these circumstances.
- Hire an expert. By state and local law, only a soil scientist can determine the presence or precise boundaries of a wetland. A client can do all the research they want, but if they want to be certain, they need to engage this type of expert.