Property damage caused by soil erosion is commonplace, expensive to repair and uninsurable.
North Carolina scientists have determined that the soil composition on mountain slopes in the western region of the state is “unsuitable” or "poorly suitable" for major subdivision development.
Soil surveys can be found on the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service website or in county Soil and Conservation offices. These voluminous reports were intended to prevent development on unstable ground but since there is no state governance, planning boards and developers largely ignore soil assessments. North Carolina also does not require land risk disclosure so prospective buyers will not find any geological hazard information on their real estate contracts or plats.
Some states, notably California and Colorado, have passed legislation to prevent developers and sellers from taking advantage of uninformed buyers. For instance, Colorado enacted the Soils and Hazard Analyses of Residential Construction Act in 1984. This bill requires that all developers and sellers provide purchasers of new residences with a copy of the property’s soil survey and site recommendations. This report must be given to prospective buyers no later than 14 days prior to closing.
Even though North Carolina does not require geologic risk disclosure, prospective buyers of undeveloped land will find protection and relief under federal law.
Western North Carolina Mountain Developers and the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act.
There are hundreds of mountain developers conducting business in the 21 county area known as Western North Carolina. The majority of these developers are subject to federal law under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. For a list of registered developers and subdivisions please visit the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
Occasionally developers neglect to file a statement of record with HUD and also fail to supply purchasers with a Property Report. For an example of a recent HUD Settlement Agreement
please see U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Waters Edge One, L. L. C.
The Property Report
A subdivision Property Report is the most significant document that a prospective buyer can receive when considering a land purchase. The Report is standard in design and table of contents. Developers are required to provide specific information about land risks such as soil erosion, flooding, landslides and other known hazards. If developers fail to comply with the regulations mandated by ILSA, purchasers have two years to seek rescission of their purchase contracts and three years to seek damages.