What’s the Big Deal About Easements?

Do you know what easements and restrictions you have on your property? You’d be surprised how many people don’t and those that do often are not sure what the easement means or where it is!

The first thing after I receive title I go over any important info on the report with my sellers (or buyers) is to go over the report and then make sure they are aware of any unusual easements or restrictions that may be in place on their property.

And easement is an agreement allowing access from the property owner to other party. Usually easements are used for utility companies to access utility lines if necessary OR an adjacent property owner whose home/land would be landlocked without an access agreement. They are a great option for a property that has no access to a road and often times run on the outskirts of the property the easement is located on.

Easements are legal agreements that are in writing and recorded with the county. So, what does that mean for the landowner? Basically, the landowner cannot impede the person granting access from using that area. They cannot put up a structure to block it or a fence and often they still maintain it as part of their property. The landowner can also use the easement as long as it doesn’t stop the other person from using it. Another reason is if the landowner purchased the land that the easement goes to. They can then get the easement removed.

How long are these in place? Most often easements follow the property indefinitely. There are some options that the easement rights can be revoked but they are often pretty extreme. Often when the person with access to the easement disrupts the property owner or tries to put a permanent structure in place without an agreement.

Why does it matter if the buyer knows about easements? Well, if a buyer is considering building a shop (or something similar) in the same place as the easement, that would cause an issue. It’s important to know what restrictions you have on your land for your personal use and especially when selling. If you know what you have prior to selling (or soon after) if can be disclosed right away, saving you time dealing with buyers.

The worst would be getting a signed around offer, marking your home under contract (which essentially takes it off the market even though the clock keeps running) and then after 5-10 days the buyer finds out that there is an easement right where they want to build something. Then they back out of the contract and you go back on the market. But, how many buyers did you potentially lose out on in the meantime? Or worse yet, what if the buyer finds out closer to closing and then backs out of the deal and you’ve been off market for 30+ days.

There are so many reasons why it helps to have a Realtor who truly pays attention to the details of the sale of your home and tries to make sure there are no bumps (or very few) along the way!

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