Types of Land Access (and its impact on value)
The type of access to your property has significant impact on its value. In fact, this is one of the biggest factors affecting land price. Let’s break this down into types of access from “best to worst.”
Paved Road Access
A paved road is the most desirable road type when it comes to owning a vacant land parcel. It provides easy access to all vehicle types and is government maintained. When selling, this gives buyers extra peace of mind knowing that the road will be maintained and they won’t have to budget for road maintenance in the future.
If you have paved road access, you typically just need to do is install a driveway and possibly a culvert and you can access your property.
A gravel or dirt road is less desirable than a paved road, but can still provide good access. The road provides a clear pathway to the land, but may be difficult to traverse in wet conditions. Also, these road types require more maintenance and if not properly taken care of there can be potholes, washouts or other issues that decrease your land’s value.
Sometimes gravel and dirt roads are government maintained and other times it is up to the individual property owners. If there is not a clear road maintenance agreement in place then you may get stuck footing the bill to keep the access to your land in good shape.
An easement is the right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specific purpose such as getting to your property. This typically reduces your property’s value and deters many future buyers who are used to always having a typical road to get to their land.
You also need to consider if the easement access has a driveway cut in along the easement or if it’s completely wooded. If it’s wooded, there may be a significant up-front cost to getting the trees cleared so you can access the property. To have a legal easement it needs to be clearly written in your deed and is usually documented in a survey.
No Legal Access
This means there are one or more properties that block your land from touching a road and you have no written and recorded documentation of an easement. You may also hear this described as a being a “landlocked property”.
Having no legal access significantly decreases land value. If your property is “landlocked”, you may be able to get a neighbor to grant an easement, but there is no guarantee. Sometimes they will give you the easement for free, but if not you could try to purchase the easement from them.
If you can convince a neighbor to grant you an easement, you’ll want to make sure you do everything necessary to make this a legal easement that can transfer when you sell the property. You’ll need to get a survey of the easement, which will take several weeks and have some up front expenses. You’ll also need to get a deed prepared by an attorney. Make sure to record everything with the county so its part of public record. By getting the easement access, the value you add to the land will typically more than offset the costs.
Thoughts or questions? Feel free to reach out via email/call and I’m happy to chat.