10 Things to Know Before Buying a Vacant Lot


With easements, we delve into the world of real estate law. According to Merriam-Webster, an easement is "an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment" [source: Merriam-Webster]. Imagine you find that perfect piece of property. It has everything you're looking for: a lush, dense forest, a babbling brook and a clearing with an amazing view perfect for your dream house. But there's a problem: There's no public road with direct access to the property, and the only way to access it is via a private road owned by your would-be neighbor. That's where easements come in.

With some luck, you'll be able to establish an easement on a neighbor's property through friendly discussion. The nature of your easement will vary by situation -- maybe you need to run a power line across a corner of a neighbor's property, or perhaps you want to install a driveway running to their private road.

In most cases, it's smart to consult a real estate lawyer when negotiating an easement. Even if you get along well with your neighbor, drawing up official documentation will allow you to lay out the terms of the agreement and protect yourself from liability [source: Schleiffarth]. If your neighbor isn't too agreeable about negotiating an easement, things get tricky. You may be able to sue to establish a "way of necessity," meaning you'll have to prove in court that you require an easement on a neighbor's property for access. You may also be able to sue for an easement based on prior use, if it's clear that the previous owners had access to a neighbor's property before you purchased the land [source: VacantLandInfo]. If there's any legal involvement, be smart and hire a real estate lawyer.