Neighbor built stone fence on my property

Neighbor built stone fence on my property
Date Published: December 13, 2013

Dear Sue,
I just discovered that my neighbor built his fence on my property. I live in a rural area and I was walking my property lines when I noticed it.
The fence is made of slump stone.
I called a well known surveyor just to make sure and sure enough it’s 4 feet onto my property. That darn fence is about 50 feet long. I am tempted to just knock it down.
I’m not sure how I should handle it. What are my options?
~Encroached upon Eddie

Dear Eddie,
Before making a plan of action be clear on what you want.
Since you didn’t notice it being built you may just want compensation. Your neighbor could pay you for an easement or a boundary line adjustment.
Either way you’ll want your neighbor to pay fair market value for the property that he has encroached upon. Fair market value can be determined by a reputable local appraiser whose services should be paid for by the neighbor. In fact your neighbor should pay for all of the necessary services related to coming to a solution.
The other option would be to have your neighbor take the fence down.
A good real estate attorney will assist you by writing an appropriate letter to the neighbor and take the issue to court if necessary.
I would strongly advise you not to knock the fence down, however tempting that might be. It’s important that you remain calm while negotiating a solution with your neighbor.

Dear Sue,
I have not made my house payment in four years. I want to do a short sale but my neighbor said I would be better off going into foreclosure.
She told me that I would have to pay income tax on the forgiven debt in a short sale but I wouldn’t have to in a foreclosure.
I know that if I do a short sale that it will only be a year or two before I can buy a house again. If I do a foreclosure it’ll be much longer.
What should I do?
~Short sale Sally

Dear Sally,
A good real estate attorney or accountant will give you better legal advice than your neighbor.
The Internal Revenue Service and the state of California will not charge income tax on forgiven debt. If you can manage a short sale it will be better than a foreclosure.
I highly recommend that you seek legal advice. It will be a matter of good Home $$$s and Sense.
Sue Thompson is the owner of HomeTown Realtors in Auburn. She can be reached at