CLARKSVILLE, Tenn- A Clarksville family thought they found the perfect house with a large fenced in backyard for their two kids and two dogs. But after moving in, they learned that a large chunk of that yard didn't actually belong to them.
"Absolutely the biggest factor was the backyard," said Stephanie Lewis, when talking about why she bought the house at 119 Bullock Drive.
The house had a large fenced yard with a big downward slope that would be perfect for their two dogs to run up and down. It also gave a great view from the back porch because it hid the fence line.
"We stood in that kitchen and debated which house to get and I kept saying but I love the backyard, I love the backyard," she said.
But on move in day they learned a third of that fenced in backyard wasn't really theirs. The listing agent said it was a minor property line dispute, but it turned out to be much more.
"They pulled up 140 feet of fence and we lost 2000 square feet at an awkward angle about a third of our backyard," said Lewis.
There is a track of dirt marks where the fence once sat and shows very clearly what they thought was their property line. Turns out, it belonged to a neighbor who was trying to clear up the issue with the previous owner for a few months before the Lewis' purchased the home.
"It was a big deal and the way it was handled wasn't good," said Grant Lewis.
It seems everyone including the seller, the neighbor, the listing agent all knew about the encroachment issue, but no one bothered to tell the Lewis', in the midst of an intentional move, until it was too late.
Dated emails show the listing agent Destiny Eberheart acknowledge a dispute in property lines days before the Lewis' moved in.
And the seller, Sandra Jones, apologized to her neighbor for putting a fence in his yard in an email dated July 3rd. Yet when asked if there were any issues with property lines on the contract to the house weeks later, she answered no.
"You read those contracts and people put no, no, no and you trust them and I don't think I will do that anymore I think I will do my own research from now on," said Stephanie Lewis.
The Lewis' say they are not going to move over the property line dispute, but they are not sure if they would have bought the home with the now smaller backyard. They hope that all military families who have to make quick home buying decisions will learn from what they went through and always double check the property line.
"We have a crazy life anyway I would do a lot more research," said Grant Lewis.
The listing agent from Exit Realty did not respond to our phone calls about why the Lewis' weren't told about the encroachment issue.