You’ve finally found the home of your dreams…that perfect Grand Lake property that promises to give you the lakefront lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
You have also worked hard and been smart with your money – notice I did NOT say lucky enough – to be able to pay all cash for your new lakefront home.
That means it’s easy…right?
No worries. No need for an appraisal. No need for a survey. Just make sure the property has clear title, show up with some certified funds, and move your boat over to your new house.
Well, this being college football crazy Oklahoma and all, I’m sure you’ll get the reference, but ‘not so fast, my friend’!
You BETTER get a survey.
An appraisal, blah, not so much – so says I, the recovering appraiser.
But a survey….GET ONE!
You might be buying property that you think will be yours, but it is currently and will remain GRDA property. That’s right. NOT YOURS!
The only way to be certain of your property lines when buying a property, whether with an existing home or a vacant lot that you intend to build on, is to get a survey.
Unfortunately, there are many Grand Lakers who have learned this lesson the hard way.
There are countless stories of people who have bought lakefront property only to find out that the actual GRDA property line runs through their yard, their swimming pool or even, yes, their home or business.
The confusion stems from the misconception about the GRDA property line.
It is a mistake to believe that the GRDA property line around Grand Lake is at the 750′ above sea level elevation.
The story goes that at 750′ elevation, the lake will be so high that it will be running over Pensacola Dam, so therefore the water can’t get any higher and that’s where the property line is.
This is a myth that has been woven through the years by who knows who.
The facts are that GRDA property is mostly a metes and bounds property description with pin and marker survey points all around the lake.
Now it’s also generally understood that when GRDA property was surveyed for the lake, there were times where it was much easier to not go down in that valley or down that bluff.
So the reality is that there are points around the lake where the actual GRDA property line might be over 800′ in elevation – say along some of the bluff areas – and other points where the GRDA property line is underwater.
The key thing to understand is that there is a real GRDA property line, and it generally doesn’t have anything to do specifically with the lake elevation.
Now, just to confuse things a bit more, there is a 757′ elevation U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flowage easement where you own the land, but there are certain restrictions associated with that land.
By the way, that 757′ elevation is a bit higher the further North you go on Grand Lake.
Anyway, the flowage easement gives the government the right to flood the land up to that elevation, for whatever reason they deem worthy. So, be aware of that, but that’s a whole different can of worms.
Anyway, say you buy that dream lakefront home at Grand Lake and come to find out the GRDA property line runs through your pool or over your retaining wall or a corner of your home or business.
Is it the end of the world?
No, but it will cost you some money.
GRDA has begun taking back leases on the value of the land that has existing improvements that are ‘owned’ by others.
This will require you, at your expense, to get a survey and an appraisal from a Oklahoma State Certified Appraiser and, likely, get yourself an attorney.
Basically what happens is your entire property is valued as if your land is vacant, then the percentage of the property that encroaches on GRDA property is figured out to get you a total value of the encroached property.
From that number GRDA proposes a monthly (it might be yearly) lease payment that you must pay to GRDA. You don’t pay, expect greater aggravation and much greater legal expense.
I have NOT heard of GRDA offering to sell back the encroached property, although that might be a common sense solution in some cases. Just not sure about that.
The moral of the story is this.
When buying that dream lakefront property at Grand Lake, even if you are paying cash for the property, get a survey. Know exactly what you are buying before you buy it.
And also, while it’s always tempting to want to save some money…make sure there is an experienced and qualified Grand Lake real estate agent involved in your purchase so that you can get expert knowledge on what to ask and who to ask.
The successful agents around Grand Lake are successful for a reason…they know what they are doing.
It can save you headaches – and money – later on.
And the necessary disclaimer with this information…I am not a lawyer and have never even considered playing one on TV, though I have been asked many times. This information is provided as just that, some basic information, so you will take it and ask the right questions of the right people. You know, common sense type stuff.