The Importance of a Road Maintenance Agreement When Buying Rural Property

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA VA License # 0225089470

The Importance of a Road Maintenance Agreement When Buying Rural Property

You learn something everyday.  As a Bristow Real Estate Agent, I do most of my work in subdivisions...the land of cookie cutter houses, state maintained streets and public water and sewer.  When I recently connected with a family that wanted to sell their home in a Bristow subdivision, I was happy to help.  When they told me what they wanted to buy, a horse farm, I called in for back-up.

There is a reason the REALTOR® Code of Ethics tells us as REALTORS® that we will not work outside the scope of our expertise.  Our clients are making decisions that are costing big bucks based on our advice.

Enter Marilyn Shackelford, my go to horse farm specialist.  She toured the horse farm the Buyers were interested in and had lots of feedback from the outbuildings to the farm house itself.  One thing in particular will stick with me on every rural property I encounter.  That is the importance of a road maintenance agreement to a buyer's financing.

FHA, the loan used by the majority of home buyers these days, requires that private roads have a signed, notarized and recorded road maintenance agreement.  Who knew?  Well, Marilyn did.  And thank goodness I had the good sense to bring her in to help me represent these fine folks on the buying end.  If we hadn't found the document we needed by tapping a trusted title resource, Marilyn knew what it had to say and who would need to sign it.  She was gearing up to create the document herself.

Pays to know what you are doing.  And it pays to bring someone who does in when you don't.  What you don't know you don't know, can lead to time lost and costly mistakes.


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Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

Chris Ann- I agree. Different types of property have they're own nuances. We find that around here with waterfront properties. You can get into massive challenges if you do not understand waterfront and act like you do. Horse farms are the same way. Financing one is a total different animal ( no pun intended) than financing a sub division home. It is always nice to have someone in your network who specializes where you do not.

Jan 21, 2012 08:07 PM #1
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Learned this when I owned my house in the Shenandoah Valley.  If the road is shared by multiple homes checking on what the annual road maintenance fee is and what contracts are in place for any work that needs to be done is imporant as well.  Our cost was reasonable but it can get pricey quickly.

Jan 21, 2012 09:42 PM #2
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

I clicked suggest as soon as I saw your title.  A written, recorded private road maintenance agreement is important not only for FHA financing, which is rarely used around Silicon Valley due to our high prices.  It's required by FHA because without it, you've got a potential huge mess.  Out here we have some alleys that provide ingress/egress to detached, back-of-the-lot garages.  Allies are private property in Santa Clara county, and are therefore not maintained by city/county.  When some sections of the alley are not property maintained by the owner, you get huge pot holes some the size of a Florida sink hole.  (I'm exaggerating).  Some owners refuse to pay for maintenance.  Perhaps they're elderly and don't drive,  perhaps they just refuse, I don't really know.  But it impacts all the people on the two block (both sides of the alley) who do use the alley. Pot holes can damage tires, alignment and even cars.  I've seen it get messy and bitter.

I also clicked suggest because I want people to read how you involved an agent with expertise in those kinds of properties.  Exactly what we're supposed to do.  Good for you, girl.

Jan 21, 2012 10:20 PM #3
Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Chris Ann, you've reached that stage where you know what you don't know!  That's pretty cool!

Jan 21, 2012 10:59 PM #4
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

In the country there are plenty of issues: common roads, common wells, common septic systems.....all kinds of uncommon stuff.

Jan 21, 2012 11:39 PM #5
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Pasadena CA Real Estate 818.516.4393 Cell

Chris Ann -- isn't it great to have go-to sources for referrals in these situations?  We can't be experts in all things.

Jan 22, 2012 12:50 AM #6
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Good Morning Chris Ann, That is a fantastic point that is sometimes overlooked, i do not sell a lot of rural property but find this on dirt roads around the lakes and vacation areas that are shared but privately maintained. Have a great Sunday

Jan 22, 2012 08:45 AM #7
Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Hey, Chris Ann!

I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week.

Jan 22, 2012 10:59 AM #8
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Way to go, Chris Ann. It is so important to call in an expert when you're working in an unfamiliar field. But I guess with the number of short sales you handle, you've already figured that part out. You wouldn't want one of your clients to be in the hands of an inexperienced agent for a short sale, so you'll do the short sale for them. Just like you'll bring in an expert on rural property in Virginia if you're selling that. You either are the expert or you bring an expert to the table. Great post!

Jan 22, 2012 11:20 AM #9
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Martha:  Marilyn and I actually share an office in the Gainesville Long & Foster.  She relies on me for Short Sales and I rely on her for rural/horse properties.  It's one of the things that makes our office great.  We do have that symbiotic thing down pat.

Cindy:  Yep.  In Braemar, the subdivision where I live, the builder put in a few private roads.  One of the owners, when unable to get this type of agreement together, sold his home.  Gotta love it when builders pull one over on you.

Lloyd:  Mama didn't raise a dummy here.  I know when I'm about to be in over my head and that's when I get help.

Jan 22, 2012 11:49 AM #10
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Pat:  I knew there'd be something I don't know, but I didn't know what.  I guess you could say I've reached the stage where I know where danger may be lurking.  And thanks for the big thumbs up.

Jim:  I've got knowledge about the septic, having dealt with three major septic issues in the past two years.  Private wells, I'm good.  Community wells, I'd have to tap Marilyn on the shoulder again.

Michael:  Amen to that!  Thankfully, Marilyn agreed to work this with me so I can be more involved since I'm handling the sale of their home. 

Scott:  I never would have thought about it.  But now I realize I can even apply this to my land of subdivision homes.  Those are not always public roads, but usually the HOA maintains the private ones.  Sometimes not.  Thought of two examples in my own neighborhood when I woke up this morning.

Elizabeth:  And the number one reason agents don't, is they don't want to look bad in from of their clients.  On a subsequent visit with these clients without Marilyn, one of the couple said, "We knew we'd hired the best agent the minute you said you don't know horse properites, but you'd get someone who did to help.  We knew you knew our current neighborhood, and you weren't afraid to tell us you didn't know the other end."


Jan 22, 2012 11:55 AM #11
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