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Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Posted by priince (My Page) on
Sat, May 30, 09 at 17:53

We liked a house which is 12 years of age and are about to make an offer. Before that there is one lingering question.

There are gas lines running behind the house. Our agent refers to them as "green space". I tried to create a visual below.. "=" are the houses on either side and between the 2 dotted lines is the green space or where the gas lines are. Is it safe to buy a house here? What thing do I need to check and consider before making an offer?

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Thanks,
Dharmesh


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Gas as in natural gas or gas as in gasoline? Both are carried by pipelines, and it sounds like that is what you describing. Are they safe? Well, it would be safer if they weren't there. Either kind sometimes blow up in rare instances.

There are other issues to worry about. Is the "green space" fenced off? If not, you may have problems with kids and others using the space for noisy activities like four wheeling or riding dirt bikes. That should be a major concern.

Who owns that land? Is it owned by a pipeline company or is the pipeline on an easement? If it is an easement, they may be on the property you are looking at, at least in part. If so, you may be paying taxes on land that you can't use.

If your agent describes the pipeline as "green space" instead of as a pipeline, I have to wonder about the agent's intention. Is this a true buyers agent, or is it the seller's agent. If it is the seller's agent (not necessarily the listing agent), the agents goal will be to get you to buy the property and he or she may minimize the adverse impact of the pipeline.

Most people don't want to live next to a pipeline. The house price should be considerably lower than it would be if the pipeline wasn't there.

Caution is called for.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Depending on other factors - what kind of gas, buried lines or above ground, etc. I don't think it would bother me.
I'd rather that than electrical lines frankly and the green space would be a plus - no one will ever build behind you.
You could find out which company they belong to and do a little research on whether they do good maintenance, have ever had a leak if your concerned.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Many easements can have benefits, such as having an equestrian easement over it and miles of hiking trails.
In your title commitment it should spell out age, ownership and owners rights. If you don't have one, ask the seller for their copy when they bought it so you can make an educated decision.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

If there is an easement, the Realtor should have disclosed it. Ask if there is one. If you get a fuzzy answer or the agent equivocates, run from the deal, as it is a strong indicator that the agent is not as up on things as should be the case, or he/she is withholding information that should be disclosed.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

"If there is an easement, the Realtor should have disclosed it."
Only if the agent has seen a title commitment for this property can s/he make such a statement. Every property has easements of one kind or another, the location and type will only be shown at title review and generally only, when the property is under contract.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

"Only if the agent has seen a title commitment for this property can s/he make such a statement. Every property has easements of one kind or another, the location and type will only be shown at title review and generally only, when the property is under contract."

Disclosures required by law vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A good real estate agent will gather all the salient facts and include them in the listing. This will include all disclosures required by law, convention, and prudence. It is profoundly unwise and unethical for a real estate agent to spring disclosures on buyers at or just before closing.

Not every property has easements. Most will, some will not. In my area, it is not uncommon for undeveloped rural property to have absolutely no easements. We recently acquired such a piece of property. And yes, a thorough title search was performed.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

I should have said that properties on the grid have easements.
Not many people live off the grid, although I'm told that many are moving here to live like that.

Here title companies do not provide a detailed title search without a contract and agents would be foolish to try to interpret something they don't know about.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

The agent doesn't need a title search. There are many ways to gather facts about a property. The first is to simply ask the owners. If the owner doesn't know or seems unsure, the agent should ask to see owner's original purchase documents.

With something as large and obvious as a pipeline, which would affect a large number of properties, any real estate agent worth her salt will already know if it runs on an easement or not. If she doesn't, someone in her office should know. At a minimum, she should know who to call to find out.

An agent that just gets a listing and then does nothing but wait for the offers to roll in and hopes everything works out at closing is not doing her job.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

"With something as large and obvious as a pipeline, which would affect a large number of properties, any real estate agent worth her salt will already know if it runs on an easement or not.'

So, where does the easement start? 5 feet from the property line or 9.5 feet, is the property line correctly identified? Without all the facts, an agent is asking for trouble.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Wow.. I had to do some search as to learn the new terms here.. Just a general info which I might have missed in my original post is.. my agent is a private agent, buyer's agent. I am not sure if he knows detailed and exact info about the green space.

The house is fully fenced. There are quite a few houses on either side of green space that are fenced. I am not sure what kind of gas is there in those pipelines but I will find out. Also I don't know about easements if there are any. You think if the house is fenced there will be easements around the house?

Thanks for all the info..


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

The main concern I have is public access to the "green space." If it exists, you may have a noise and or privacy problem. It is hard to give more specific advice without knowing a lot more details.

When I asked about a fence, I was referring to the pipeline. From you description, the pipeline isn't fenced, but some of your neighbors have fenced themselves off from the pipeline area. The owners of the property you are looking at seem to have done the same thing.

The easement question is to whether the pipeline is located on landed owned by the pipeline company or on land owned by the homeowners via an easement. It really has nothing to do with fences, although people don't tend to fence of land they own.

I suggest you go talk to some of the neighbors. I have done this in the past when I was looking at property. You usually get all kinds of useful information.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

"I am not sure what kind of gas is there in those pipelines but I will find out."

Go to the nearest street the line crosses and look for markers.
They should say who owns the line.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

It would appear that everyone has gone off the deep end on this one.

The agent mentioned that there are "gas Lines" running in a green space between the lots on the backside. I wonder if everyone would have had the same reaction if the agent said there was a gas line running in an easement along the roadway on the front of the property?

When any of the utility lines (water, gas, municipal sewer, storm sewer, cable TV, Telephone, or electric are run parallel to the roadway on the front side of a lot the utility provider is confronted with one of two problems, If they only run the line on one side of the roadway they have to run the service line to the structures on the other side of the roadway over or under the road, or they have to run a separate line on each side of the roadway, which doubles their cost of installation.

Rather than have the normal "tree Belt easement" along the side of the roadway across the frontage of your lot, in new tract developments it is now becoming quite commonplace to have a "green space" utility easement across the backside of lots. In this manner all the structures on either side of the utility line can be serviced by one line without crossing the roadway. This technique is especially commonplace in areas subject to hurricanes, where they are now insisting that all utility lines must be underground.

What does this mean to the homeowner?

It means that between the lots there is a 12' to 20' strip of land that is technically owned by the municipality or the respective utility provider. In the normal course of events you may use 1/2 of that land as an extension of your landscape the same as you would a tree belt along the front of your property. The only downside is that it may become necessary for the utility provider to cross that strip with equipment or dig up their lines for maintenance, but with the materials they are using to install the lines, it is highly unlikely that they would need to do any digging for 10 or 20yrs and in the mean time you get the benefit of an additional 6' to 10' strip of land without having to pay taxes on it.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

None of which answers the question of public access to this strip and potential problems. According to the OP, the agent said gas lines (plural), not utilities easement.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

Here is what it looks like.. there is no fence or boundary to physically stop public access but I was there couple of times and did not see any activity in that area. I went on weekends both times

Lazypup is very close to the situation am facing.. but the public access to this strip as mentioned by creek_side is still there..

Yes the agent did mention anything about easements, but I have specifically asked him about any easements..

Here is the 3D map view of the location and area around the house..

From General


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

You need to look at your title commitment and a plat map to determine if the property/easement is a fee simple or really an easement.
My guess it's an easement. I'm working on one that will be almost 60 miles for a pipeline right now. It will consist of fee simple (acquisitions) and permanent and permanent exclusive easements, where the property owner still owns the land, with restrictions.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

"The agent mentioned that there are "gas Lines" running in a green space between the lots on the backside. I wonder if everyone would have had the same reaction if the agent said there was a gas line running in an easement along the roadway on the front of the property?"

The lines run like this (especially after seeing the picture) are not regular service lines.

Transcontinental Pipeline (Transco) has a large network if interstate natural gas lines from the gulf Coast up the east coast.
These lines are large, very high pressure, and the gas is NOT oderized.

there are other pipeline companies carrying liquid fuels (gasoline, diesel, Jet-A, etc.) from the Gulf Coast refineries up the east coast.

There is one of each within a few miles of my office in Virginia.

The safety record of these lines is very good, with almost all problems caused by digging in the right of way buy companies other than the line owners.

The easements around northern Virginia are generally open and the neighbors are free to cross them.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

This easement is a non-issue. As others have pointed out this is very common thing in areas of high density development.

It appears that the propety is fenced off from the easement. The only thing that I would be concerned with is if the easement extends inside the fenceline, and how far. Most subdivisions have numerous utility/drainage easements(btw, there are both ground and aerial easements) to allow servicing each and every home. How else would you get gas, phone, electricity and cable tv to your house.

Now for the doom and gloom that other posters are trying to imply. Yes, this could be a high pressure(1100 psi) 36"+ nat. gasline carrying gas you can not smell. Or, it could be carring any type of petroluem products from raw crude to jet fuel. It could be one pipeline or it could be many which could carry any combination of products. There is the possibility of catastrophic failure which could cause damage to property, the environment, and yes even death.

Some will say that the green space allows criminals easier access to your home, but in reality most criminals would rather enter through the front door or side window, espcially when there is a dog out back. In some areas these negative perceptions will lead to lower home values.

Now for the good news. These pipelines are extremely safe and well maintained. Statistically you have more of a chance of dying in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, a plane crash, and a slip and fall in your own bath tub. I assume none of the above stops you from driving, flying and taking a bath, LOL!

Public access can be a plus for you and your neighbors. If allowed, you may be able to put a gate in your fence to access the green space. This can be a great space to walk a dog, play fetch, etc. If you have kids it is a great place to throw a ball, play soccer, etc. It can really save wear and tear on your own yard by being able to use this space. Generally the only people that are allowed to access this space are the people in the neighborhood. Some developments actually market this green space as bridle, biking, and walking trails and will charge a premium for lots with direct access.

Bottom line is if the negative stuff bothers you don't buy the house. But if you can see past all of that, and the house is priced right, passes inspection, buy it and enjoy!


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

If it is an easement, who is responsible for maintaining it? I think you need to confirm exactly what it is, then you can evaluate it in terms of the legal, physical, and financial aspects and see if it makes sense for you.


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RE: Need advice - Gas lines behind the house

I am soooooooooo happy and pleased with everyone's replies.. I've learned some new concepts and also understood what to look for..

I finally got some clarification from the current owner. Here is the reply I got. Hope it helps to get more specific advise. Also let me know if I need to ask any followup questions.

What kind of gas lines run through that area?

Natural gas

Owner of those gas lines?

The gas company is Atmos Energy

How often do they do any maintenance?

Once a year or every other year they test the pipeline by running high pressure water through it. They do this from the pumping station at 135th and Pflumm.

Are there any easements?

Not within the boundarys of our yard; we were told that we could have extended our fence out into the greenbelt area if we wanted to but that it would be in the gas line easement and that the gas company could knock it down if they needed to do work out there. Some of our neighbors have extended their fence into the easement but we chose not to.

Thanks,
Dharmesh


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