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Can Easements Affect Property Values?

by The Smith Team 03/15/2020

Image by Zach Schorr from Pixabay

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you might discover there is an easement attached to your property. If so, you’re probably wondering how this affects your property values.

What is an Easement?

In a nutshell, an easement is for one person to have explicit permission to have use of another person’s property for a specified purpose. There are three general types of easements: gross, appurtenant and prescriptive. Each has specific rights attached to them and the rights could be for either a private (i.e. allowing someone access or use) or public purpose (i.e. utility companies). Easements can be temporary or permanent; with the latter, the easement is typically written into the property deed.

It’s important to know, while easements permit others to use your land for a designated reason, it doesn’t grant anyone using your land any rights to ownership; you are sole owner.

Can Easements Affect Property Values?

Easements of land may or may not impact your property’s value, depending on how the land is being used and whether you want to use (or sell) your property. Many times, an easement has no impact on your property’s value. However, there are potential issues that may crop up when looking to develop or sell your land which could impact its perceived value.

  • Easements might limit the ability to build structures on affected portions of the land.
  • Resale values might be impacted by structures, wires, pipes, etc. placed by utility companies, especially if they are unsightly or prevent owners from developing the land for personal purposes.
  • Buyers might not like the idea of others “trespassing” on their land, even if being done legally.
  • On the other hand, some easement holders pay a fee to the property owner, and collecting this money might be an attractive prospect to some buyers.
  • In many neighborhoods, everyone has the same easement attached to their property. In these cases, it doesn’t typically impact your property value because the easements affect everyone’s property equally.

    Is There a Way to Remove an Easement?

    A court of law often considers an easement to be used in perpetuity unless a stipulation exists in the original agreement of how long the easement will last. In some cases, easements can be removed.

  • A written agreement is made with the easement holder to terminate the easement (easier if the original purpose of using the land is abandoned or no longer valid).
  • If easements are no longer used or needed, inquire if a title action can be taken to reset property lines, eliminating the existing easement.
  • Ask the current easement holder if they are willing to abandon use and let it naturally expire—there will need to be proof this has occurred for the easement to be removed.
  • Consult with a real estate attorney who is well-versed in both general and state-specific easement laws—there may be lesser-known “outs” for easements according to local laws.
  • If you do successfully terminate an easement, be sure it’s recorded in public records.

    While technically an easement doesn’t devalue your property, it can affect its marketability. This is always something to consider when determining to willfully grant an easement or buy a home that has an easement attached to its property deed.

    About the Author
    Author

    The Smith Team

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