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Does buying a place with a party wall change your due diligence?

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Real Estate Law

No one has to tell you how hot California’s real estate market has been lately. If you are trying to purchase your first home, you simply may not be able to afford the down payment on a single-family residence. After all, according to Zillow, the average house in the Golden State currently sells for more than $800,000.

Condos and other residences in multi-unit buildings often sell for somewhat less than their standalone counterparts. If you want to buy such a place, though, you are going to have to contend with at least one party wall.

What exactly is a party wall?

Despite its festive name, a party wall is more functional than fun. These walls sit on top of property lines, making them have at least two owners. For example, you and your neighbor are likely to own half of the wall that separates your condos. That is, you own your side of the wall, and your neighbor owns his or hers.

What can you expect with a party wall?

Buying a place that has a party wall places some restrictions on you as a homeowner. Indeed, you may have a legal obligation to maintain and repair your side of the wall. You also may not be able to relocate the wall or renovate your home like you may want to do.

Why do you have additional due diligence?

Most residences with party walls have existing party wall agreements. These agreements spell out each owner’s rights and responsibilities. They also usually have instructions for resolving disputes that inevitably arise between neighbors. Consequently, you must get your hands on the party wall agreement and understand its contents.

Ultimately, by conducting a thorough review of your party wall agreement before closing, you can avoid purchasing a property that has unacceptable restrictions.