3 things to know about buying a property with a party wall

With the red-hot housing market throughout California, buying a single-family home can be out of reach for many. Condos, rowhomes and other multi-unit dwellings are often more affordable and more convenient for first-time homebuyers.

If you are planning to purchase a property in a building with multiple residences, you are likely to encounter a party wall. A party wall is simply the barrier between two or more separately owned or rented properties. Here are three things you should know about buying a place that has a party wall.

1. The wall serves an important function

Some party walls merely separate residences, clearly outlining where each owner’s space begins and ends. Oftentimes, though, party walls serve an important structural function. They may also act as fire or sound barriers, making party walls necessary for the overall use and enjoyment of each owner’s home.

2. There is probably a party wall agreement

Each property owner probably owns his or her side of the party wall. Because modifying or removing the party wall is likely to negatively affect everyone’s property, there is probably a party wall agreement in place. This agreement outlines each owner’s wall-related rights and responsibilities. It may also have a provision for resolving wall-associated disputes.

3. The party wall requires an inspection

It is always a good idea to arrange for a home inspection before closing on a new property. You may need to pay special attention to the party wall, however. After all, if your side of the wall requires repairs, you may be on the hook for them pursuant to the party wall agreement.

To borrow from a famous poem, good party walls make good neighbors. Ultimately, by reviewing the party wall agreement and inspecting the wall before closing, you begin your relationship with your new neighbors on the right foot.