Oops…That Isn’t Common Area After All

Oops…That Isn’t Common Area After All

At the tail end of 2002, very happy home buyers closed on a deal in the Active Adult community of Dunbarton in Bristow. They had landed one heck of a deal–a large brand new, three level home backing to Broad Run and siding on the east to what the builder (Brookfield Homes) told them would remain common area to Dunbarton. As Brookfield put it, the neighboring lot could not be built upon without considerable expense to improve the grading, so the buyers were assured their view of the wooded lot next to them would remain common area. The asumption was that Brookfield would deed the lot to the Dunbarton HOA.

On March 11th (2023) the buyers mentioned above, my former clients who had purchased and sold investment property with me, called. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a home tour with a buyer in the Winchester area and didn’t have time to hear the entire scoop. The headline was simple. Brookfield Homes had listed the lot next to their home for sale at $90,000. WHAT???

Having promised to follow up on the matter the following day, I did some research before calling my former clients. Sure enough, the lot was listed by Brookfield for sale at $90,000. The listing agent told me there was a building site on the property and it would be the last buildable lot in Dunbarton. Brookfield had decided they were no longer holding onto the lot and there was no duty to donate the lot to Dunbarton as common area. Whoever bought it would have full rights and access to the Dunbarton amenities. They would also have to pay the monthly HOA fee. This listing agent already had promises of other offers coming in and one offer in hand. When that last bit of news was relayed to my former clients, no matter how much they disagreed with the building site information or the misleading information they had been given by Brookfield years prior, they had some thinking to do.

The following day, they called and decided they were making a bid for property. They wanted to protect their view. The only way to do that was to buy the lot. By that point, there were three offers on the table. And my buyers knew full well the intense interest in the property. They had a front row seat for the buyers, considering the opportunity, coming to the lot and sniffing out the possibilities.

My clients were able to meet with me quickly and take swift, decisive action in the form of an above list price offer with an escalation clause on March 13th. There were no contingencies needed for my buyers. They were not buying with the intent to build. They knew exactly what they were getting as they had been admiring the lot for over twenty-two years. They were making a cash offer, with a large earnest money deposit and offered to settle within two weeks. The fast settlement was made possible by a phone call to my most trusted title partners at RGS Title who offered to start the title search the day of our offer.

Thankfully, my buyers’ offer was accepted. They thwarted unwanted construction on the wooded lot they had thought was common area for all these years. Their offer had escalated to $115,000 to beat the next highest offer. It closed March 29th for $25,000 over list price. From the settlement table, I texted the listing agent to know when our side had signed. She shared her amusement that she was receiving yet another offer on the property on settlement day. Apparently, not all agents understand the “pending” status in the MLS (multiple listing service.) My buyers are delighted that they had the ability to ensure their view for as long as they want it. Obviously, if they ever decide they no longer care about the view, it is a lot in high demand.

Chris Ann Cleland
Associate Broker

VA License #0225089470
Long & Foster Real Estate
Call or Text: 703-402-0037
Email: ChrisAnn@LNF.com

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not Long & Foster. All content is written by Chris Ann Cleland without the aid of artificial intelligence.

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