Arizona Real Estate: Property Descriptions & Disclosures

Instructor: Racquel Fulton
Many people may think that a property description is what they read in a real estate ad. What they may not think about is that below the home's surface is a piece of land with own unique description. In this lesson, we will explore the real description of a property and what a seller must disclose to a homebuyer in Arizona.

Divided Land

Harry, a real estate developer, is building a new community in Arizona. He purchased a large piece of land and divided the land into smaller lots, creating a subdivision. New homes are being built on each lot and then they will be advertised for sale. However, before any of the homes can be sold, Harry has to file a subdivision disclosure report with the Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE).

ADRE is a government department whose job is to enforce Arizona's real estate law. ADRE helps to protect the public from financial losses and fraud by overseeing real estate professionals and subdividers. In Arizona, anyone who owns at least six lots located in one area of land is considered a subdivider. If a subdivider offers to lease or sell one lot without first filing a disclosure report, the buyer has up to three years to cancel the transaction. So before selling any of the new homes, Harry must prove to ADRE that he is the lawful owner.

Entitled To Sell

To prove his ownership, Harry gets a copy of his deed. A deed is a legal document proving who has ownership rights to a property. The deed also contains warranties that give Harry the right to occupy, build upon and sell the land. Those same warranties will be transferred to everyone who buys one of the new homes.

Harry also orders a title report issued by a licensed title company. The title company will search all of the public records associated with the land. The report lists outstanding debts against the land and easements. An easement is a right commonly given to a utility company. Easements allow the companies to access the subdivision to install and maintain pipes and electrical lines.

ADRE needs to know the exact location of the subdivision so Harry orders a survey. A survey is a report issued by a licensed land surveyor detailing the land's measurements and boundaries. The survey contains both a legal description and a map. Legal descriptions are written details and the map is a visual guide to the land size and location.

Harry's next step is to prove that his subdivision is in a zone approved for his type of development.

In The Zone

When Harry purchased the land he received authorization to build the subdivision from the local zoning board. Zoning boards are local authorities that determine how land can be used. Harry's subdivision is zoned for residential use. If the land was zoned commercial he would have only been allowed to build office buildings or shopping centers. Zoning regulations effect how big or small each lot can be and the building height of every home. Harry attaches a copy of his zoning permit with his disclosure application. Now he needs to prove that the homes are up to code.

sample zoning map

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