A client recently asked about the term "easement" on a listing sheet. He wanted to know if it was anything to be concerned about.
Having an easement on your property simply means that someone else has a right to use it for a specific purpose. An example of this would be that your neighbors have an easement to walk over your driveway to get to their property or that the electric company has a right to get to a set of nearby meters.
Easements are quite common. They grant access of your land to other parties like utility companies, often to provide service or to maintain drainage flow across properties. In a way, an easement is similar to having joint ownership on a portion of your land with a complete stranger.
There are easements "for profit" that allow a neighbor to remove something from your property, such as blueberries. Some common easements allow people continued and regular access to walk across your land often in connection with a recreational facility or nearby park.
An easement is written into the deed. The seller of a home knows about it and it should be listed on the property disclosure and MLS listing. The broker should then disclose the information to any potential buyers or their broker.
If the property you are interested in has an easement, get a copy of the wording on the deed and have your attorney review it. Most easements are harmless and are not anything that should prevent you from purchasing and enjoying a property. You just need to know all of the facts, read the exact wording and make the decision as to whether or not it is something you can live with.
An encroachment is another matter.
When a neighbor's swimming pool, garage or house partially hangs over your property, it is an encroachment.
More often than not, the encroachment has been going on for many years with the current owner of the property not objecting. If it has, then, chances are the neighbor has an implied easement on your property to continue using it in this way.
Once again, the facts should be disclosed at the time of the listing.
Usually, encroachments are a minor nuisance, if any, and should not influence your decision to purchase a home. Legally, you could force the removal of an item that is extending onto your property. However; it is wise to consider the impact it will make if you force the other property owner to pay the costs to make these types of adjustments. Not to mention, the effect it will have on your new relationship.
The important thing about easements and encroachments is to be informed and know that they exist. Having all of the facts will go a long way in easing tensions with the neighbors and will help you to derive the greatest amount of enjoyment from your new home.
Do you have questions about buying a home in the Metrowest area? I would love to talk with you. Please feel free to call me at 508-881-6230 - any time or E-mail me.
Copyright 2009 - Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner - TheBuyersCounsel
Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Newton, Northborough, Framingham, Shrewsbury, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough