The Pathway to Possession: Why Legal and Deeded Access to Property is Critical
When it comes to buying land or real estate, ensuring that you have legal and deeded access to the property is not just a smart move; it's a fundamental necessity. While having road frontage is often considered the ideal scenario, understanding and securing legal easements can be equally valuable. In this blog post, we'll delve into the importance of legal and deeded access, shedding light on why it's a critical factor in your property ownership journey.
1. Securing Your Right to Access:
At its core, legal and deeded access guarantees your right to enter and exit your property without any restrictions. Obviously, you want to make sure you can use the property you're using. It provides the peace of mind that you won't encounter unexpected roadblocks (both figuratively and literally) when trying to reach your land.
Most states have a provision to force land owners that adjoin your parcel (assuming it doesn't have public road frontage) to allow you through their land. In my opinion, it's worth asking permission to access your land and, not immediately resorting to legal action, to make a neighbor and not an enemy. You know, more flies with honey and all that...
2. Road Frontage: The Ideal Scenario:
Having road frontage means your property directly touches a public road or has a dedicated driveway. This is often considered the gold standard, as it ensures easy and consistent access to your land. However, it isn't always as great as it seems...
This is a side-tangent, but the land above fronts a public road. In fact, this road is maintained by VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) and to build a driveway off of a VDOT maintained road it comes with quite the bureaucratic nightmare. To avoid this, or best navigate, my advice is to call a bunch of folks that clear roads and talk with a few different people. Different people have different recommendations. Then call the County and see what exactly is required.
3. Legal Easements: A Viable Alternative:
In cases where your property doesn't have road frontage, legal easements become essential. A legal easement is a legally recognized right to use a specific portion of someone else's property to access your land. It's typically documented in the property's deed or a separate easement agreement.
4. Avoiding Landlocked Parcels:
Without legal access, your land could become landlocked, meaning you have no legal route to reach it. Landlocked parcels can be challenging to develop, sell, or use, and they can significantly diminish the value of your investment. This might be a great way to pick up some land cheap, but there will be legal bills securing your easement or bribing your neighbor to let you use their land. (while extorting is not legal, there is a legitimate claim to requesting they compensate you if they are using your road that will have added use and wear)
5. Ensuring Future Use and Development:
Whether you plan to build your dream home, start a business, or simply enjoy the property's natural beauty, legal, deeded and physical access ensures that you have the freedom to use and develop your land as intended.
6. Resolving Disputes:
Having legal access in place helps prevent potential disputes with neighbors over access rights. It clarifies your legal standing and can save you from costly legal battles in the future.
7. Financing and Property Value:
Most lenders require legal access when you seek financing for a land purchase. Obviously not a concern if we are financing the property for you, but worth noting. Additionally, properties with legal and deeded access tend to have higher resale values and are more attractive to potential buyers.
8. Due Diligence is Key:
Before purchasing any property, conduct thorough due diligence. This includes verifying that the access to the land is legally recognized and deeded. Consult with a real estate attorney and conduct a title search to confirm the access rights. If you have doubts, make sure to ask the attorney and get it in writing. If you have a survey, ensure the access is noted on the plat.
Legal, deeded and physical access is the key that unlocks the potential of your land investment. Whether through road frontage or legal easements, securing this right ensures your property is a valuable and usable asset. Don't overlook this critical aspect when buying land, as it safeguards your investment and paves the way for your landownership dreams to become a reality.