What is a Flag Lot and are there any Pros and Cons to buying or selling a home on one?
One of the common questions I get is what is a flag lot? Here in the Portland Metro and surrounding suburbs, we have what is called the Urban Growth Boundary. Builders are limited to build neighborhoods and homes within this boundary to prevent urban sprawl, so they built homes in every nook and cranny that they could to get as many homes in the allowable space. Many of these "infill" homes are on flag lots that are tucked away off the main street.
In the diagram to the left you can see one type of Flag lot.
This is on a small street off the main one that is shared by four homes. I've found that there seems to be people that have no issues with a flag lot and some like them, but in most cases, they are not as desirable as having a home on a main street.
The Pros of a flag lot would be that you have a private road to yourself...well and the others who share it. This might be a good thing if you have children and want them to play in a "safer" place where the only cars coming up the road are usually those that live there or guests visiting.
The Cons are that you do have to share this road with others, there is usually limited parking, and your home is often hard to find. This can be a major disadvantage for emergency situations when a fire truck will have difficulties navigating a flag lot as well as finding your home in the first place.
Since the drive is often a shared easement, there might be shared repair issues as well. Of course you'll need to look closely at the tax records and plat maps when purchasing a home that is on a flag lot to see if there are any restrictions or shared costs for that particular property.
In the second Diagram, you can see that there are two seperate flag lots. One is off the main road that leads down to two homes tucked away while the other leads down to just one single property.
I listed one of the homes at the end of the two home flag lot and I can tell you that the parking was indeed difficult and I had to back out of the long driveway just to get out. There is also the issue of being very close to the neighbor that you share the driveway with. This particular neighbor was great, kept the home neat and didn't clog up the driveway with cars...but you don't know who will move in next should they decide to sell.
The other flag lot that leads down to just the one property in my opinion is a more desirable one than the others since the driveway is not shared.
If you choose to buy a flag lot, know that there might be re-sale issues as you have a 50/50% split on desirability, you will lose that 50% buyer pool when it comes time to sell. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, so your agent can look and see if there has been a difference in sold flag lots compared to your regular lot in that neighborhood.
Like anything when buying and selling a home, you need to look at all the factors. If a flag lot is in a desirable neighborhood, close to the city and shopping, the downsides can often be overlooked.
If you have any further questions on what a flag lot is, please feel free to contact me.