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In 1995, North and South Carolina created a Joint Boundary Commission to research and tweak the 334-mile border between them. The original border was established in the 1700s, but over many decades, the landmarks for the original boundary have disappeared or become corrupted. What people thought was the state line in some counties wasn’t the actual state line. People have developed, conveyed and improved properties based on an erroneous assumption of the location of the legal boundary.
After 20 years of negotiations, surveys, and research, the governments of the two states reached an agreement about where the state border lies. The boundary has been re-surveyed based on historical monumentation and research back to original colonial records. Effective January 1, 2017, some parcels (or portions of larger tracts) previously believed to be in South Carolina are now confirmed to be in North Carolina, and vice versa.
The re-survey could affect properties in any of the counties along the NC/SC boundary from Polk County east (including a portion of Polk County). Although some counties may not have very many properties that show the line incorrectly, a case-by-case determination will need to be made by an attorney reviewing a property’s title.
A “Notice of Affected Parcel” based on taxpayer listings has or will be recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds of each county, along with the re-survey maps. The Notice should contain certain information concerning each parcel potentially affected by the boundary certification, including the following:
- The recording reference for the final survey of the confirmed boundary.
- The names of the record owners of the affected parcel.
- The property address of the affected parcel.
- A tax parcel identification number or other applicable identifier for the affected parcel used by a county tax office, if available.
- A brief description of the affected parcel, if available.
The Notice should be indexed in the names of all record owners of the affected parcels (or at least the names of the taxpayers identified in the county’s property tax rolls).
Information regarding the surveys is available on-line at the office of the North Carolina Geodetic Survey by clicking here. These surveys do not indicate owners or tracts. They only show the location of the monuments of the border found. Surveyors will have access to these surveys to be able to identify them on the ground when they do a survey.
Real estate brokers involved in the purchase or sale of property near the NC/SC state line should advise their clients to get a survey, or at least some professional location of their property in relation to the state line, if there is any question at all about whether the property has been affected by the re-survey.
Anyone involved with properties affected by the re-survey should be sure to discuss title issues and the necessary certifications of title in detail with professionals who are knowledgeable about the many legal issues involved in these titles, whether the property is now all in North Carolina or is still partially in South Carolina, or vice versa.
Planning for transactions involving affected properties should take place much farther in advance than usual, as such transactions may require dual title examinations, dual recordings, potential delays and very importantly may affect TRID disclosures.
NOTE: Much of the information above has been taken from a memo from the Real Property Section of the NC Bar Association and the NC Land Title Association. The full memo is available on the Bar Association’s website and may be viewed by clicking here.