Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Buying Bare Land

I guess I should have started with this post but recent events have caused me to reevaluate how to assess bare land.

Who are your neighbors?  Neighbors can be a great assess or liability.  Before you buy a piece of land go and talk to the neighbors.  This will serve two purposes.  One is to get a read on who your neighbors are going to be and to get a little history on the land.  I don't want to sound like a snob but your neighbors can have a huge impact on the enjoyment of your property.  Loud music, burning leaves, barking dogs, guest at all hours of the nights, I am sure you have dealt with some of this.  They can also tell you a lot about the land.  After we bought our property we learned from the neighbors that our lot had been created by a bankruptcy court splitting a bigger lot and that the neighbors were told that this area would never be built on.  Luckily our neighbors were nice and didn't mind that we were going to be building on it.

Easements:  If you are looking at a piece of land with easements on it make sure you read them carefully.  We have a road easement on the south side of our property.  We own from the middle of the road north.  There is a 30 foot easement from the center of the road onto our property for the neighbors that live behind us.  This didn't seem like that big of a deal since it is a single lane road that is probably about 10 feet wide.  The issue came this spring when I put some rocks lining part of the road to keep people from driving into the grass and causing weeds to invade.  I was confronted by a neighbor saying I was blocking the easement because they have 30 feet of access on my property even though there is no road there.  It seemed a little extreme to me but I called a friend of mine who was a lawyer and he said if they wanted to drive in the grass the law say they have 30 feet of my property to drive on.

Road maintenance:  If it is a private road it will need to be maintained.  How will it be maintained?  Is everyone supposed to pitch in and pay to fix the road?  That might work fine until someone says they can't afford to pay.  Then what?

Fences:  Know which property line fences you are responsible for maintaining.

Irrigation:  Learn the water right laws if you have any.  People get shot out West for water rights issues.

A little research beforehand can help you to avoid some rude awakenings later.

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