obsolete HalfDork
7/18/22 3:53 p.m.

Building a house on a larger lot with room for a shop and a big garden is something that my wife and I have been talking about for a while. It's not in our immediate plans, but a few years down the road, it's something we could start seriously considering. Today during lunch, I was aimlessly browsing, and came across a lot that's about the right size (0.97 acres) in a part of town where we'd like to live, for a price that's so cheap, we could just pay cash for it tomorrow with no impact whatsoever on our current lifestyle. Sounds too good to be true, so there has to be a catch, right? Well, the catch is that there's currently no access to the lot, so an easement would need to be obtained. To my untrained eye, there's no obvious place where that easement would go. There are existing subdivisions to the north, south, and east, and a 4-lane highway to the west. See map below:

Does anyone have experience with anything like this? I don't even know where to start, so I should probably just pass on it because I have no idea how large a can of worms it would be, but, well, I'm curious...

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/18/22 3:56 p.m.

In PA there is no such thing as a "land locked" piece of property. There is some sort of permemant easement on an adjacent piece of property somewhere in the deed. I would search the deed 9n the local courthouse and look to see what it says. We've bought properties in the past just like the one you are looking at and there is always a "right of way" in order to gain access. 

1988RedT2 MegaDork
7/18/22 4:01 p.m.

I'm reading this now.  I'm sure laws vary state-by-state:


bgkast PowerDork
7/18/22 4:35 p.m.

In reply to lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) :

That was my first thought as well. There also seem to be several lots "behind" the ones that front the streets in the subdivision that strike me as oddly having no apparent access. Try to locate the Plats for each of the subdivisions to see if they show any access easements.

jgrewe HalfDork
7/18/22 4:57 p.m.

The first thing I would do is see who owns the lot, the lot to the East, and the house on the cul de sac. They might all be the same owner. The problem I see with that route is the placement of the house and probably very narrow ways to get around it.  There might be something already in place or the seller may be prepared to offer an easement.

Slippery PowerDork
7/18/22 5:17 p.m.

Buy a helicopter? 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/18/22 6:06 p.m.

If the land is for sale, ask the listing realtor about the easement. If there is no easement it is really only for sale to the neighboring owners (which could be completed by the owner w/o a realtor.) 

neverdone Reader
7/18/22 6:10 p.m.

It also may have a setback to that drainage way on the upper left.

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera Dork
7/18/22 6:42 p.m.

I have an easement on part of my property.  In a nutshell, my neighbor owns half of my driveway, gets to pay taxes on it, has to share in maintenance costs (because they use it some of it), and can't do anything with the property that impacts my use.  Our property line is such that she owns the driveway off the city street.  We both use this part of the driveway, but it Tees off to my house.  The deeds say neither of us can use (read:park on) the driveway in any way that blocks access for the other party.  It has been completely problem free for over 20 years.  I'd choose not to have an easement, but it's really a nonissue unless the terms are unusual  - like the grantee may only utilize the easement at specific times or with approval.

MiniDave Reader
7/18/22 9:46 p.m.

No you know why the lot is so cheap....

eastsideTim UltimaDork
7/19/22 10:30 a.m.

Based on the other plots, it looks like there was another subdivision being planned, with a road where I have added the red line.  I would assume that would be the most likely target for an easement.

obsolete HalfDork
7/19/22 2:08 p.m.

Thanks for all the insights. The land is for sale, and the listing states: "Access: Locked--an easement will need to be obtained by the new owner. " Based on what I've read since yesterday, while a landowner is supposed to be entitled access to a landlocked lot in Minnesota, the reality is a lot less certain, and would probably involve paying a lawyer with no guarantee of success.

jgrewe, we are speculating that the lot to the east is owned by the homeowners farther east, since they appear to be mowing a portion of it. We don't know for sure, though; maybe they just enjoy mowing. Anyway, I don't see access from any of the existing subdivisions being a possibility. These are all upper-middle-class surburban homes, and the odds of anybody being fine with an alley cutting through their yard seem pretty low.

eastsideTim, that's a great point--why else would all those lots down there already be divided out? The best bet for developing this lot may be to buy it and sit on it until that development happens (if it happens), at which point it would be possible to work with the developer to ensure access, or maybe just resell the lot to that developer at a profit if it no longer fits into our plans. I'm not sure I want to get into that game, however.

We didn't have time to drive over and look at it yesterday evening like we hoped, but I spent some time on Google Maps, and I think what may actually kill this idea for good is that from an aerial view, this doesn't look like a great place to build a house. All of the surrounding lots slope down into this area, and it probably gets pretty wet. I don't think that's something I'm willing to deal with.


FieroReinke Reader
7/19/22 2:38 p.m.

in Missouri if there is no easement, one has to be granted for the shortest way to public roads that doesn't impact other structures or setbacks.   that lot looks to be set back a ways from any road and the granted easement may be difficult   how long expensive of a driveway do you want to put in and how much time do you want to spend in court fighting for it?

We just saw this play out next door.  our neighbors had an easement through their yard for the farmer that owns the land behind us.  the farmer sold off a chunk and someone is building a house.  farmer had to give up part of his farm land so the new owner could put in the driveway.   spent a long time in courts as the farmer didn't like giving up the land but his mistake for not realizing this when he sold the land to the builder.  

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