Road Access Question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Hoop, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Northern Wisconsin
    My mother is selling off some property. 80 acres of wooded forest land in northern Wisconsin. It was listed 3 weeks ago with a realtor. $160,000.
    The realtor called earlier today and had 2 prospective buyers with adequate financial wherewithal to make an offer to purchase.
    The prospective buyers want to be assured of a written easement before they make an offer to purchase.

    The 80 acres is 1/2 mile off a blacktopped public road on a seasonal road....actually, the road is only passable during May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov at best. It is strictly recreational land, although it does have some timber value.

    The road access is a potential problem. My father (who passed away 2 weeks ago) never mentioned any easement. A check of the deed shows no recorded easement. The road travels through 2 landowners "40" acre parcels. One of the landowners would gladly give a written easement as they have been family friends for generations. The other landowner "PROBABLY" would also give a written easement.....but one never knows.

    My father had used the existing access road for over 60 years.

    There also are other property owners past my mothers property. The State of Wisconsin owns thousands of acres. A good sized local timber company owns 200 acres. A couple of local people own 40's.

    Incidentally, the access road was constructed by the CCC boys back in the 30's as a fire lane.

    Obviously, the best case scenairio would be securing a written easement so that the sale can proceed.

    What legal rights are involved in a situation such as this.
  2. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    This would be a good time to consult a good property lawyer about this....

    I think in most places someone has to give you an easement if your land is "landlocked" and since this road has been used so long a judge would probably rule that way....But I don't know if they would think someone would need an easment if land is to be used for only a "recreational" use, instead of as a home....

  3. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    1. It is generally illegal to sell land without any access.

    2. It appears that the access road may already be a prescriptive easement. In other words, if someone has been using the road for access to the 160 acres for a period of time, it has become an "unofficial" prescriptive access easement.

    But check with an attorney to be sure. And it's always best to have a written and recorded easement if at all possible.
  4. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    You need a lawyer to write this up, get signatures, & registered on the deed permanently.

    Easements are always a pain, devalue property a lot. Without one your land has little value at all.

    Check out all the 'issues' in the archives here with easements, and how life can be miserable with an easement.

  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    May 22, 2003
    Zone 7
    The right to egress/ingress without a deeded right of way are controlled by the state and therefore it will vary. With having accessed the property for years a precedent has ben established and will most likely remain regardless of whom owns the properties. Any attorney with some grey hairs at the temple should be able to answer you question off hand. Here in NC, if the access was through a gate the freedom to movement was hindered and therefore encumbered creating one set of rules, with no gate the unencumbered access would create another. Even if you could trade some of the 80 acres for a deeded right of way you would be better off. The value of the property would signifcantly increase. I bought 40 wooded acres recently at a depressed price due to no right of way. I paid dearly for a 10 acre strip to access the 40. Has the family verified the value of the timber on this land being sold? If not , you need to hire a timber consultant as you could be making a mistake. The above 40 acres referenced was sold at the courthouse steps as having timber of little of no commercial importance. No one verified the timber other than me as it entailed a hike in the heat of summer. Cutting of the timber just concluded and would you believe the timber sales exceeded the selling price of the land? The trees will be replanted in a few months.
  6. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    she might want to talk to a logger first, there's money in them trees. The prospecive buyers are likely going to recoup part of their investment by selling timber
  7. Anataq

    Anataq Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    Check the with the BLM for a 2477 easement. It is possible that one exists and if not it is also possible to get the road certified as a 2477 easement being that it is so old.

  8. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    I just ran into some people who closed off a road running through their property. There is another access to the properties beyond it. What they had learned was that if they allowed traffic through for 7 years it became a permanent right of way. Now this is in Pinal County, AZ and I am sure that every place has somewhat different regulations.