by Caroline Kirby
If you’ve been searching for land for a while you’ve likely come across listings that talk about road access time and time again. But what does that actually mean and why is it so important? We’ll break it down for you.
Don’t Get Landlocked
When searching for land to buy you don’t want to get stuck in the middle, surrounded by properties owned by other parties leaving you unable to freely access your own land. In order to avoid buying landlocked property you should have an idea of the different types of road access to make the best decision based on your needs.
Generally, access falls under one of three legal categories: public access, un-deeded access, and deeded access.
Which One Do You Need?
Public access is the easiest to look at, so we’ll start there. This is property that touches a government-maintained road meaning you won’t have to cross any other person’s property to get to your land.
Un-deeded access is essentially the equivalent of being landlocked—you’ll have to cross another party’s property to access your land. To reach your land you will have to cross a road or trail owned by another person; or maybe there’s no road at all. There is likely an existing path that people have always used to gain access to the property, but there is NO written legal agreement. While this may have worked for previous owners it can complicate easily and quickly, unfortunately un-deeded access may not be the best route.
As you could probably guess, deeded access is just the opposite of un-deeded access. There is a formal, written agreement with adjoining landowners that gives you the freedom to cross the road to reach your land. Land with deeded access poses no potential issues for investors and will protect you as it’s usually recorded in the local courthouse.
Why Does It Matter?
While every state has their own laws regarding land, for the most part you want to avoid getting mixed in with un-deeded access. Doing so could result in issues with running utility lines, water or pipe lines across properties or even the lack of an easement. Investing in land with un-deeded access could actually prove to be more trouble than you’re looking for, but with that being said there are exceptions to every rule.
If you are intending to use your landlocked property for hunting or growing timber you can typically get access granted easily, either by the adjoining property owners or the state. However, contention with neighboring property owners could lead to costly legal battles and a lot of wasted time.
How you plan to use your land could make all the difference in the road access debate so make sure you have a clear idea of what you want before you start looking for properties or at least before making any offers.
When you’re ready to start shopping around you can browse our properties here. At LandHub, we offer thousands of resources and listings if you’re looking for land chances are we have it.
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Should have talked about prescriptive easements as well.
You did not mention statutory right of way say down a section line that joins your property even though no road exists. Although in this case there is a high line and owners have been using a trail through here for decades.
Great article that helps buyers, sellers, and their agents better understand what is needed to be addressed when it comes to access on their land.