I Like Dirt Roads - Any affect on value?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Properties Nashua


NotMaintainedEdited.pdfWhat is it about a dirt road that makes your senses sharper?  You have to drive slower and pay closer attention.  The trees are taller, and closer to the road.  The light is filtered from the leaves above, and as the wind blows, it creates movement, almost an ethereal effect.  The understory of the encroaching woods is full of ferns, rotting wood, moist dirt, and life.

OK, out of la-la land! I am an appraiser and Realtor.  I need to look at the dirt road a bit different.  The main questions I need to ask myself:

  1. Are dirt roads market accepted in this area?
  2. Is the road town-maintained?


In New Hampshire dirt roads are fairly common, but extra research still needs to be done to determine if there’s an affect on value.   In a town plastered with dirt roads it’s common and the value is not typically affected.  These towns may have more open-space, farms, or conservation areas.  People with horses often prefer dirt roads.  Towns like Mason, Lyndeborough, or Francestown, have many dirt roads.

On the other hand you have places like Bedford and Merrimack.  They are larger towns where dirt roads are not common and therefore would require an adjustment in the sales grid due to not being market accepted.

Marketability aside, dirt roads are dirty, require special equipment to maintain, they are muddy and rutted in the spring, and there is less traction.   If it were a public road the town would maintain it.  If the road is not town maintained it may be difficult to get a loan or insurance on the property.  If the road has a formal, written, and recorded maintenance agreement it should be acceptable to FHA. http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ref/sfhp1-15.cfm

I like my dirt roads.  Don’t care about a muddy car.  Seeing how far I can slide in a mud pit is fun. It’s all about the senses really.  Sweet smelling, alive, and picturesque…I KNOW THE WAY.  I stop to listen to the brook as it splashes over the boulders.   You want your smooth, carcinogenic asphalt roads?  You want to miss seeing that moose grazing in the wetland because you’re driving too fast?  I understand, really.  I just choose to go the long way.


Just my thoughts.







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Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Jennifer: I like your spirit, but in the summertime you do get tired of dust and the mud in the winter. Oh yeah, those potholes... 

Jul 04, 2011 04:59 PM #1
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

What an interesting Blog, Jennifer.

    Growing up in the South, with Pickup Trucks and All Terrain Vehicles, we love Dirt Roads.

   But Selling a House on a Dirt Road?  If the Road is not Government Maintained (which is most of them), the "Road Maintenance Agreement" issue comes up... the Lender wants to see it.

   I have sat down with neighbors, and explained the situation, and they have signed off on the Attorney-Prepared Road Maintenance Agreement.   But I have also encountered many owners who have refused to participate.  The Non-Maintained Road becomes a Show-Stopper.


Jul 04, 2011 05:02 PM #2
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Jennifer,

The best thing is a dirt road in the trees, like your picture, then it curves out of sight.

The beauty. The mystery. The privacy!

I still want a property with a long dirt road through the trees, that curves out of sight!!


Jul 04, 2011 05:21 PM #3
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

Yes dirt roads are interesting.  Ours do not necessarily have trees they could be desert roads.

Jul 04, 2011 06:14 PM #4
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Jenn, my favorite is the washboard effect between the spring rains.  Finding just the right speed to get your tires to sing along and skitter lightly about without jarring yourself apart while doing so.

Jul 04, 2011 06:48 PM #5
Brin Realty Associates Team At Bean Group
Bean Group | Brin Realty Associates - Amherst, NH
Amherst NH homes and Southern NH real estate

I'd like to hear the appraiser's answer to this question...In NH a Class VI road is not maintained by the town and I think that affects value in a big way; you bring up an interesting point and that is what kind of property is it on the dirt road...a small camp, a cabin, a small home that would attract a buyer that wants privacy and isolation.  On the other hand a big home probably won't fly and those buyers don't want their pretty cars covered with dust every day...Good post Jenn.

Jul 04, 2011 11:36 PM #6
Jennifer Cote
RE/MAX Properties Nashua - Nashua, NH
Realtor, Nashua NH Area Homes for Sale, Everything

Well good morning all,

Hella, yes, the dust is a problem...lol.  The mud too.

Phil and Kevin, so you agree with me on the magical effect.  The excitement around every corner...can you tell I enjoy the simple things in life.  Keep in mind, I don't live on one, but I love driving on them.  I definitely prefer the roads with a tree canopy.


Thank you for posting,


Jul 05, 2011 12:09 AM #7
Jennifer Cote
RE/MAX Properties Nashua - Nashua, NH
Realtor, Nashua NH Area Homes for Sale, Everything

Class 6 roads, or roads not maintained are a different story because it is difficult to get financing...I just loved that picture of the "Road not maintained for winter use."  I took that in Deering, NH.  Dirt roads are not necessarily class 6.  An interesting link: NH Fact Sheet.


Shared roads are another story as well.  FHA does require "recorded" documentation...not necessarily just a signed agreement.


-Just my thoughts.


Jul 05, 2011 12:25 AM #8
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Jennifer Cote

Realtor, Nashua NH Area Homes for Sale, Everything
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