'Prisoners in our own home': Property spat renders Cary home unsellable
Posted May 30
Updated May 31
Cary, N.C. — A property line dispute that should have been fixed years ago is keeping a Cary homeowner from selling her house.
The unusual dilemma boiled down to two things: wrong paperwork that was complicated by neighbors who no longer get along.
The home sold quickly until the buyer's agent found that the deed was wrong.
When Joanne King bought her Cary home, her closing attorney, Rebecca Stevens, did not use an updated deed that reflected a property line change of 18 inches into her neighbor's property. Her home is not on the neighbor's property, but it is too close to the setback.
"It's just this corner of the house, a foot and a half of this corner," King said.
A map on record with Wake County shows the old, dotted property line from the new, solid property line. King's neighbor installed a walkway on his property to mark the spot where his land ends.
It has now been four years since the error came to light.
"We just want to get out of here, and we're trying everything we can," King said. "We just feel that we've exhausted all our options."
Town land records involving the homes are correct. The error only involves the deed. So, Cary officials say the town has no role in a fix.
"We've looked at this and explored this with the property owner for the last couple of years and tried to find a way to resolve it through the town, you know, from the town's perspective, but it's just something that's really a private, a private property matter," said Cary Planning Manager Wayne Nicholas.
Nicholas said the usual fix in these situations is for neighbors to work it out. King says her neighbor, Shawn Collins, declined their $5,000 cash offer to buy the 18 inches.
When contacted by 5 On Your Side, Collins said there's not a problem.
"As far as I'm concerned, there is no property dispute," Collins said.
King hoped the attorney who helped close on the house, Stevens, would lend her legal expertise to help correct her error. Stevens told 5 On Your Side that she couldn't discuss the case because of confidentiality.
After the Kings signed a release, Stevens left them a voicemail saying "the file is closed" and she "will not be making any comment."
"I know that you have waived attorney-client confidentiality," Stevens said. "However, the file is closed and I will not be making any comment."
King also filed a claim with her title insurance company, First American. The company denied the claim, saying there was no basis for the claim.
Nicholas said the process is difficult, but the town can't do anything about it.
"It's like I say, we can understand it's a difficult process and difficult thing, but, you know, unfortunately, there's just nothing—we've looked at all our options to try and help the situation and there's nothing we can do under our ordinance to fix the problem," Nicholas said.
But King said she wants the whole thing to be over.
"We've been living like this for four years, and it has been a nightmare," King said. "We're prisoners in our own home and we want to get out."
First American did not return phone calls asking for clarification but recently reopened King's case.
Clarification: A previous version of this story said that the property deed reflected a property line change of 18 inches into her neighbor's property. It has been clarified to say the home is not on the neighbor's property, but it is too close to the setback.