Does an Easement on a Property Reduce its Value?

Jul 11, 2016

When you’re purchasing or selling a piece of property, the title search may show an easement which may or may not affect the value of the property. Determining if this is a good or bad is up to you, the buyer, and your attorney.

An easement is a right created or granted to another party by the current land owner. Easements can be temporary or permanent. There can also be easements for public utility or power lines, phone lines, water pipes, gas lines, etc.

Types of Easements

There are three common types of easements – easement in gross, easement appurtenant and a prescriptive easement. Each type of easement affects your property in different ways and can affect the current and future value of the property.

Easement in Gross

An easement in gross involves property only and the rights of the property owner are not taken into consideration. For example, a utility easement would be an easement in gross. It would be recorded in the public real estate records and regardless of the owner, would affect the property, if applicable. Easements in gross frequently impact all properties in a given area. For example, an easement for overhead utility wires everywhere in the community to permit repair, improvement and maintenance.

Appurtenant Easement

An appurtenant easement is an easement created out of necessity. For example, if your parcel was landlocked, meaning there was no access to any portion of it via a public road, an appurtenant easement for ingress (to enter) and egress (to leave) would have to be created with another adjacent parcel.

In this case, an agreement is made between the adjacent parcel property owner giving the owner of the landlocked property rights for limited use and access to the landlocked parcel. The easement can be restrictive or can be as broad as required.

Appurtenant easements are also recorded with the public real estate record giving notice to any future owners.

Prescriptive Easement

A prescriptive easement would arise if someone uses a part of your property without your permission and involves only the loss of use of part of a property such as a driveway or pathway. A common example of a prescriptive easement is when a fence is built on the wrong side of the property line. If the use is continuous without interruption for several years, a permanent prescriptive easement may result. The number of years of uninterrupted use whereby a prescriptive easement is permitted varies by state.

Unrecorded Easements

Easements are recorded with the public real estate record in the county where the property lies. When an easement is recorded, it gives notice to all current and future owners of its existence and affects the title and use of the property. Future owners will be obligated to abide by the rules of the easement and will continue on title until the easement has been terminated.

If for some reason the easement is not recorded, this could result in a loss of rights to the property upon the next transfer of the property.

If you are unsure if an easement affects your property, consider ordering a title. It will provide you with information about the property such as the current owner, outstanding liens. mortgages, easements, restrictions and covenants which affect the property.

For any other questions or concerns, contact the team at U.S. Title Solutions for more information.