Understanding Easements

When purchasing any property, it is important to look into any easements that may exist. Easements such as right-of-ways can be common in rural areas in particular, and should be carefully explored to ensure they do not negatively affect your enjoyment of the property.

What Are Easements?

An easement is a legal right that is granted by one property owner to someone (usually another property owner nearby) to utilize his/her land for a particular purpose. This term defines a legal arrangement that will likely carry over to new owners when the property changes hands. Easements are sometimes noted in real estate listings, but many do not include mention of them, which is why you should always double-check with your REALTOR® and Lawyer.

How Are Easements Created?

Most easements are created through a binding written document that becomes part of the title to the property. The law prefers easements that are written and consider all practices, habits, and customs related to the property.

Examples

The most common example of a an easement is a simple right-of-way. This may have been created to allow access to an adjoining lot. For example, if a land-locked parcel exists behind your property, and the only way to access it is via your land, a right-of-way may exist to allow access. This is a common arrangement in the Annapolis Valley, where many parcels were created and subdivided in “creative” ways over hundreds of years. Easements of this nature are less common in modern developments, but may still exist. Other types of common easements include water rights (e.g. a shared well) and utility easements (for access to sewer, water or power lines).

Get an Expert Opinion

To find out if there are any easements associated to a given property, and the implications of them, it’s best to hire the services of an expert. Your REALTOR® can obtain preliminary information from the deed and the current property owner(s); however it is best to seek the opinion of a real estate attorney to explain the ramifications in great detail.

The Pitfalls of Buying a Privately Listed Property

People generally have a misconception of what REALTORS® actually do, and how much work is involved in arranging a sale. In fact, REALTORS® do quite a bit for their buyer clients. An experienced REALTOR® should be an expert negotiator, able to pin a fair price on the property you want to buy, and make an effective argument for this. A good rapport with other agents and sellers is critical: you want your offer to be taken seriously and responded to in a timely fashion. Arranging financing, assistance with inspections, correspondence with other professionals such as insurance brokers, lawyers, surveyors & notaries, and in general, making sure all documentation is in order.

A good REALTOR® should identify problems before they arise. Here are some common issues and misconceptions associated with the purchase of a privately listed property.

  • Don’t expect a discount price. Buyers often mistakenly assume that by buying a privately listed property, they are automatically going to get a bargain price and save money. Despite the fact the seller isn’t paying fees to a REALTOR®, it doesn’t mean they will bring down the price of their home or property. The seller is still taking on a lot of extra trouble, and will expect something in return.
  • Legal risks. If you are not savvy when it comes to legal matters and if you lack the experience to recognize potential problems in an agreement to purchase, a REALTOR® can help. A boilerplate, standard agreement is rarely enough to cover your best interests. Each property must be approached on a case-by-case basis and terms evaluated based on your specific needs.
  • Overpricing & Overpaying. Proper pricing is one of the major services REALTORS® provide, on both sides of the transaction. Prior to writing an offer, your REALTOR® should be providing a detailed market analysis on the property, to ensure the deal is fair.
  • Negotiation and Stress. If you are not skilled in negotiation, it’s best to leave it to a professional. A your REALTOR® should be a skilled negotiator, work in your best interests above their own, and check emotions at the door when advising you. If you’ve never negotiated a real estate transaction, be aware that you could encounter sellers who enter real estate deals on a regular basis and know how to get their way. You may be outclassed if you’re not practised in the art of the sale.
  • Access to Information. In addition to market and pricing assistance, information about neighbourhoods, schools, amenities, and even the neighbours themselves may be withheld by the seller. This is information your REALTOR® should have and will volunteer when looking out for your best interests. You can (and should!) do your own research, but advice from someone who’s watching the market every day, tracking trends and hearing the “inside scoop” from an unbiased perspective is invaluable.
  • After sale services. The seller won’t be there to help you after the sale if something goes wrong. Your REALTOR® will be; the duty of service extends beyond handing you the keys on closing day!

It’s worth it to consider protecting yourself from the troubles often associated with buying privately. Let a professional step in and take care of all the negotiation, issues, small fixes and questions for you. And keep in mind that “hiring” your own representative usually won’t cost you a penny! For more information, contact Colin Crowell, BBA, REALTOR® today at 902-840-3999.