Ease on Down the Road
I have fond memories of the trip my husband and I took through Missouri to decide where to purchase our new property. For a week, we traveled around, spending one day with a Realtor in each of the areas we considered. Each day, we saw something new and beautiful, whether it was a sweeping view across a river valley, or the trail through acres of trees at a remote rural property.
As a full-time, active Realtor from Florida, I thought I was keeping a pretty sharp eye on all the aspects of value in the properties we saw. It turns out that my eyes were clouded by the romance of moving to the country. On that whole trip, I never gave serious thought to the roads leading to each property. I was too busy looking at the charming scenery.
So let's talk a little bit about rural roads. Not roads that can take you somewhere far away. I mean the road right outside your new property.
If you're relocating from an urban area, as I did, you may have the mindset that you will just go around the block or over to the next main road to get around a problem. You're probably streetsmart. Let's make you "roadwise" too.
The roads here in Southwest Missouri are very good, and even gravel and dirt roads are generally well-maintained. It's very easy to get around. But there are definitely some road rules that you need to keep in mind when you're shopping.
A Road of Your Own
In rural Southwest Missouri, a nice short paved driveway to the house is not all that common. When you're out shopping for real estate, start looking carefully as soon as you turn onto the property.
You'll need to create or maintain suitable access from the public road to your home and outbuildings. This can be simple, or not so simple.
In many circumstances, just driving where you want the road plus doing some judicious mowing and graveling quickly produces a tidy two-track lane. This is what we have, and it works just fine. But if the road has low spots or a more finished look is important to you, you may find yourself involved in:
- Excavating dirt and grading
- Graveling or paving
- Putting in culverts to keep water from flowing over the surface
- Ongoing maintenance
Take into consideration the time and money cost of the road when you are comparing properties that appeal to you.
Goin' to the End of the Line
If I've driven you to the very, very end of a charming country road lane in Southwest Missouri for a showing, and you see the home of your dreams sitting there, stop a moment and think about:
- The length of the dead-end section: The shorter the distance back to a main road, the better.
- The road surface: Is it gravel, dirt or pavement?
- The surroundings: Could one falling tree or a single damaged bridge block your way out?
- The lay of the land: Does the road have low spots that will be prone to flooding?
- Your needs: Do you have a job where no delay can be tolerated or a health problem that often needs prompt attention?
Being at the end of the road gives a wonderful feeling of complete freedom and privacy. There's a great value in that charm. Enjoy the freedom, but be ready to take the responsibility of stocking up and planning for any road closings.
Share and Share Alike
Some rural property is reached via an easement through someone else's land. This easement may only be for your access, or may be shared among a group of owners. Maintenance of the road is also something that must be agreed upon. It is crucial to make sure that the easement is recorded in the public record. This is called a "deeded easement".
The right to get to your land is not something you want resting on a handshake deal!
Your comfort with an easement is a personal choice. We visited one property where our Realtor led my husband and I off the county road and then through two cattle gates, in accordance with the listing agent's instructions.
At that point, our vehicle was in the middle of a huge field, with cattle standing there eyeing us, a two-lane track running off into the distance, and no house in sight yet. That was too much easement for us!
Our Realtor told us exactly how it would be. We were still in our romantic dreamy country period, and made her take us out there.
The Road Home
We now own a Southwest Missouri property that we love, on a road that has the right characteristics for us. Without helpful guidance from the Realtors we worked with, and some hard-headed thinking after that first wonderful visit, we might not have made such a good decision.So remember, keep your "eyes on the road" when you're looking at rural Southwest Missouri property. I'm ready to help you find the right road for you!
Presented by: Judith Reppert, Your Southwest Missouri Real Estate Specialist