Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | November 14, 2015

Easements and Loans on Palomar

Palomar Easement Project map on table

Back in August of 2005, I opened a webpage as a way to store some road and easement information I’d found in title reports. This was important, because most of our properties up here had physical access only.  We could drive to or from the properties but most properties did not have a “deeded, PLOTTED road” from a public road (Crestline).  I’ve invested many hours over the years pouring over title reports with numerous title companies, surveyors, county employees, attorneys, two judges and PMPO meetings.  This was all an attempt to ‘Cure’ the easement woes on Palomar and give lasting value to the properties.

As a Realtor since August of 2000, when a buyer purchased with a loan, we usually had a lender-ordered inspector come up.  He would photograph the access and the bank would approve the loan.  Another issue for lending up here has been our lack of comparable sold properties.  Over the years I have tried to be accommodating when a buyer had a friend’s cousin’s brother who was a lender.  Any lender on TV will give a pre-approval letter.  But, will they close the escrow???    As I learned through numerous, costly delays over the years,  it takes a local lender with underwriters who are familiar and comfortable with Palomar to fund the loan on day 29 of a 30 day transaction.

About 12 years ago, lender Bobby Askari started doing loans for my clients.  I don’t even know how we first met.  I do remember when he changed companies, twice.  Both times he reached out to me saying one of the reasons he needed to make a change was because the companies he had been with in the past were tightening up on requirements.  His new company made a commitment to continue doing business on these local, back-county properties.  However, we knew we were on borrowed time, we knew eventually, someone would need to do something about the lack of deeded easements on this mountain.

Without a deeded, plotted easement, you are still LANDLOCKED.  You can have ‘physical access’  or the seller can have ‘prescriptive rights’, but you MUST have a plotted road to truly lift the landlocked issue.  

Fall of 2014, with two properties in escrow requiring loans, the rules did change.  Both properties I had sold in the past with loans.  They were purchased with physical access  but no plotted easement to the cabins.  Now with different rules, it didn’t matter who the company was, loans would not fund unless the property had a “plotted easement, or fronted on a public road”.  I even tried hard-money, private lenders.  No funding without plotted road.

Bobby Askari came to the rescue.  He offered to farm our escrows out to other title companies.  One responded, we made some progress, they came down from Orange County, promised the moon, but after about 6 months, could not deliver.

Bobby found us, title rep, Jeff Knapp who actually made a move to a different title company that could work with our unique issues.   Meanwhile, a supervisor at the county offices was retiring.  I honestly think he felt sorry for the man taking his place, if he were to inherit this persistent Palomar Mountain Realtor and her easement issues.  He assigned a student intern to do some more digging.  That intern made a simple little discovery that eventually gave us county-blessed, plotted roads to two important areas.  It was all coming together.

We set up a meeting with the folks pictured above and were able to confirm a third area for plotted easements.  We now have a fourth area.

Thanks also goes to the following folks:

Janice Haggard, Stewart Title Officer, with many years experience in mapping.

Mike Pique, weekender, PMPO Board member and someone who has been to all known section corners, quarter corners and everywhere in between.

Bill Ring, Senior Land Surveyor, retired 13 years ago but comes back in, helping on County projects.  We are so thankful to have his expertise. And, (drum roll!) Eric Lazovich, Land Surveyor who stepped up to the plate to help move this project forward and get some of our little dirt roads documented through old maps, now recognized on your title reports as ‘public roads, privately maintained’.

We still have one small area being worked on which would totally cure the easements in the Birch Hill to Crestline areas.  Eleven years are finally paying off with escrows closing in most areas with deeded plotted roads.   History in the making!!!

More changes!!  A few months ago the lending rules opened up again.  Lenders were now able to show physical access for landlocked properties and fund the escrow.   Wow, my phone started ringing, inbox started filling up and letters arrived in the mail from lenders from all over, asking for loans and re-finance business for my clients. Sorry, not an option.


If you are still reading this longest-post-so-far on the Mountain News, you will understand why Bobby Askari will continue to have my business.  (I don’t have financial or perk compensation in any way.)  We owe his persistence and professionalism so much in getting us where we are today.  These recent discoveries add tremendous value to the majority of the formerly landlocked properties on Palomar.

Questions?  Glad to get them answered for you anytime.

Bonnie Phelps, Realtor

Palomar Properties




  1. Bon,

    What a great newsletter and — at the end of the day — spectacular success! May it continue to be so.

    God bless, Bob


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