Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | June 14, 2018

Do you have a clear title report?

Hello Everyone,

Recently I completed a transaction with one of the more interesting and challenging title reports.  Thinking about it today, I thought I’d share a bit, since it might benefit some of you.

Years ago, I met with a property owner.  He was thinking about selling and we did a lot of talking that day.  He was very proud of a recent easement he had acquired through neighbor’s land, to get to the public road.

He went into quite a bit of detail about how great it was to have that easement and the work it took to get it.  It was so important since his property had been landlocked all those decades.  The building department requires a ‘legal, deeded, plotted road’ to pull a permit to build.  Even though he had driven to his land for years, he’d finally acquired the easement that added so much value.

Fast forward about 15 years or so…  His son contacted me as the family decided they were going to let the property go to a new owner.  I always immediately pull a title report with ‘all items and plotted easements’.   It takes time to get the report in, review and be ready to even market the property and then eventually, close the escrow.

I was so surprised the property showed up landlocked!  Dad is no longer with us to ask for more details.  Connecting with the heirs, we carefully walked through family files, looking for “The Easement”.  There were two old easements found, but not recorded properly and not what the dad had talked to me about. He had traded 5 acres of land for the easement.  The land was parceled off, but where was the easement in exchange? We pulled title with two other companies in an effort to locate the missing document.  I’d sold property along the area we drive past, so had a little working knowledge and researched those lots.  Finally consulted with a surveyor that got us some county documents to solve our mystery.

The seller and I talked about the fact that if I hadn’t met years ago with his dad, I wouldn’t have even had the knowledge an easement was missing.  The heirs only had a very casual knowledge and did not realize something much more beneficial was out there.

It was not until right before closing that everything finally came together.  It took several months of a lot of digging to get what was finally found.  It is correct and now recorded properly.

What happened?  The easement was approved by the county, as part of a large, neighboring subdivision map.  It was mentioned in the fine print, on that map, which directed us to the documents at the county.  Those documents had not been recorded with the subject property – until now.  This is just one example of many clouds on title I’ve worked on to clear.

How can this benefit YOU?  Many of you have easements or ownership changes that you are aware of, perhaps have had done, but maybe not recorded with your  property. I’m glad to help – whatever your property is .

Most of Crestline and Birch Hill are landlocked with all title companies. But the majority of the parcels have very clear, deeded easements that have been finalized, just not recorded, for about 95% of the properties. If you have property in those  areas, those easements belong to YOU.

Have you purchased in the past couple years? These new easements have all been recorded with my transactions. But if you haven’t purchased recently and live on Crestline or Birch Hill, there is a very good chance your property is landlocked on title.  It would be pretty much impossible to find and record this easement without these documents in my files.

I am glad to assist, at no charge, pointing you in the right direction to have a very clean title report.  We could check on your ownership and the rest of the report.  Then, I would provide the deeded easement documentation for title to add and record for your property.

The title company would have a charge for this service, but I don’t.  Just glad to help dust off some old reports and get those clouds to go away and add a lot more value to your real estate!

Simply email me your address or APN – Assessor Parcel Number (you can get that off your tax bill). I’ll copy you on a message to title to get this rolling.

Bonnie Phelps, Realtor

Let’s Connect!

See also Easement News – Map 9,   Birch Hill Easements and

Palomar Mountain Real Estate




  1. That’s interesting as one can force the issue and get an easementy “by necessity” as land locked property is pretty useless. What I found interesting is that if deeds are not recorded they can very well stand up in court, if enough proof is presented. Since title insurance will only stand by you for things recorded, one has NO gurarantee from all issues, Not likely to happen much now-a-days. Little interesting tid-bits.

    • You’re right, easements by necessity do exist. You might see the response below to Doug about one of our mountain folks who spent $50K working that option to no avail. Also, if there is any other possible way to get to your property, the easement by necessity idea has proven to be pretty lucrative for attorneys, but not too successful for the landlocked folks.
      And, yes, always best to have your deeds recorded – and make sure the language is correct for today’s requirements.

  2. Bonnie, thanks for the excellent post, great advice. I live in Maine now, and a state law makes it illegal to sell a parcel that is landlocked. That’s not to say all parcels have access to a public road or a recorded easement, just that it must be resolved before sale. Is there no such law in California, or San Diego County?

    • How interesting, Doug. If that law hit the back country of San Diego County, it would shut down a lot of properties. Some properties I have sold many times. In fact, one cabin is the first I have had a part in six times. Each time it has had ‘physical access’ only, landlocked, with no deeded easement. That is one of the areas I now have a county letter for and have had transactions with the title company plotting the easement. The letter references a map from the 1930’s, signed by the board of supervisors, showing the road. Pretty special find for all those folks in that quarter-corner.

      We also have quite a few privately held parcels that have physical access only through National Forest. One property owner spent $50,000.00 with an attorney to try to secure an easement from National Forest. They absolutely would not grant an easement at all. No way. So all those property owners are not able to build with a permit. The ruling makes no sense. By denying an easement, permits are not an option, so it forces property owners do their own thing. In the end, the county looses out on the permit fees and the taxes. But of course this is attractive to many people.

      There are some pretty nice cabins tucked back in ’round this mountain. I’ve sold with the buyers signing off, knowing they are ‘landlocked and without permits’, following in the footsteps of Realtors before me.

      Thank you for your response. Enjoy your time in Maine!

  3. Bonnie is the best, period.

    You wont find a more honest or hard working realtor ANYWHERE!

    • Awe… thanks Eric. You are very kind.

  4. Miss Bonnie, You are truly the gem of Palomar Mountain!

    I love your enthusiasm and great fondness for this little “hill” we call home!

    It is an honor to call you friend!

    • Thank you kind Sir! We sure love having Chef Chad on the Mountain and sitting ’round our fire. We enjoy you popping by any time. Dominos! 🙂

  5. Bonnie, we should do this. Also, when we bought Resor’s two lots it was put in our names instead of our Family Trust. Can we fix that at the same time? Thanks for your help! Marcia

    • Yes, it is all a pretty simple process. Please email me your three APN’s and I’ll copy you on a message to title. We’ll get your rolling!

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