Can Easements Affect Property Values?

by Virginia Lindstrom 03/03/2021

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

    Virginia Lindstrom

    Hello and welcome to my website!

    My Real Estate sales career began on June 18th 1985 at the age of 29- a wife & mother of 2 young children.

    Within the 1st year I closed 5 sales and in January 1986, began my monthly marketing in the Lakewood Village neighborhood in Sunnyvale, where I made my very 1st sale and also took my 1st listing!

    Over the last 3 decades, I've helped well over 450 families purchase and or sell their "American Dream".

    I specialize in both Lakewood Village in Sunnyvale and the Cambrian area of San Jose, where I've lived for over 20 years. 

    I now primarily help sellers with the sale of their property- whether it is their primary residence, or an investment cash out or 1031-Exchange, an Estate Trust sale or a Probate sale of a loved one who's passed away, I have vast knowledge and experience in all these areas of Real Estate.

    I began my Real estate career with Century 21 Community Realty in Sunnyvale, until that office closed. Since then, I've been with Re/Max Real Estate Services in Cupertino and recently celebrated 26 years with Re/Max in October 2019.

    I pride myself in being the best Real Estate professional I can be with integrity and honor at the forefront of my business career and my clients.

    Thank you for visiting my website and I look forward to an opportunity to serve you and your family with all your Real Estate needs too!

    Warmest Regards,

    Virginia Lindstrom, Realtor