Hi, everyone. Today’s Zebra Report is on location. I am on-site today at a residential development property troubleshooting some easement inspection work. Oh, how fun is that?

I want to talk a little about easements today because I have received a lot of calls recently pertaining to delayed closings due to last minute issues arising from easement challenges. Easements are by far one of the trickiest things to navigate when you are buying, selling, and representing clients on real estate transactions.

Easements can be a complicated topic due to the incredibly profound impact they can have on a piece of land. They have been the cause of many conflicts between neighbors and they are often hard to understand.

I encourage every real estate agent to actively seek out knowledge about easements. Title companies sometimes offer classes on easements to educate agents on how they work and to try to help them better identify common easement issues. This understanding is critical, because as an agent, you will have to communicate with clients that do not understand the full impact of the easement that comes with the property they are buying. Easements need to be respected, reviewed, analyzed and you need to fully understand all that comes with having an easement on a property.

You must fully understand what rights are given to a person or entity when an easement is granted. What access rights are given, when can those access rights be exercised and who can and cannot access the property. Are there limitations of when the easement can be accessed and what can be done on the easement area?

I have seen access easements with time limits. I have seen usage easements that only allow use certain times of the year. There is no limit to what can happen with easements. I want to warn everyone that, of all the things I have experienced over the years, the one thing that can cause problems for a development, a project, transaction, or any real estate deal is an easement issue.

You need to understand them to do your job well. So, get to know them well. Some easements go back 30 years or more, and there may be old technology involved that was never accounted for when the original easement was created. So be aware of ALL easements, they should be like big red flags waving warning signs to STOP, INVESTIGATE, and get the advice of an easement expert.

Above all else, never have a client sign off on a property with an easement unless they understand and have read every document pertaining to that easement and have discussed that in depth with a good land use attorney or easement expert.

Easements are one of the best things you can develop expertise in. Are they fun? Not really. Will your knowledge of easements be essential to making a deal happen one day? Almost certainly. So, get out there and sharpen your easement tool.

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