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Blog :: 09-2016

Private Roads: Benefits and Burdens

Part 2 in a 3 Part Series on Private Road Maintenance Agreements in the State of Maine.  Last week we got some great information about the road maintenance agreements and lending in Maine from Phil Laughlin, of First Financial Mortgage.  This week, we're picking up the conversation with Jim Flemming of New England Title, LLC to take a closer look at the benefits and the burdens of private roads and private road maintenance agreements. 


DRIVEWAY: The easiest way to think about the benefits and burdens of a private road is to consider your own driveway.  Benefits: The land it’s on, presumably, is your property. You decide if it’s paved, gravel or dirt. You get to say who comes and goes on that piece of the earth. Aside from sight lines, your municipality has no governance. It's yours. Burdens: You bear all costs, liabilities and maintenance frustrations. It's yours. Road Maintenance Agreement? Unnecessary unless you do not own any part of the land the driveway crosses. If you do have a license or a Right of Way for the driveway, your obligations to the land owner are likely defined there. 

PRIVATE WAY: The next level of private road emerges if you have enough land and decide to build another house on the property, either for your own use or for sale. At this point, your “driveway” becomes very long.  Benefits: You probably still own the land under the road so the rights to access your own property are still guaranteed. You likely still decide if its paved gravel or dirt. Burdens: You bear all costs, liabilities and maintenance frustrations. You are responsible to keep the road clear in all weather. Municipalities become involved and may define your obligations more specifically.  (you can choose to not plow your own driveway, for instance, but you must plow your private road) Private Road Maintenance Agreement? Possibly required. You'll need town approval to put in a private road, and the municipality may or may not require a formal maintenance agreement. Binding other owners to maintenance costs on the road can be helpful but draws them into sharing the benefit of determining how funds are spent. The structure of the agreement will determine how much influence other property owners have in decisions on the road. If your are the land owner, you may prefer to keep the benefits of ownership to yourself.  If you are buying property on a private road, you at the very least need to know what to expect and what is expected of you with regards to the road. 

SUBDIVISION: The “Big Cahoona" of private roads is a subdivision. In the State of Maine, a subdivision exists in any cluster of four or more private homes built on the same parcel of land. Essentially, a subdivision private road is no longer a driveway, it’s a privately maintained thoroughfare. Or from the standpoint of budget and management complexity, a tiny town. Benefits: Shared ownership of the road. Burden: Shared ownership of the road. Costs of clearance and maintenance are shared by all property owners. Rights to access are very broad.  And everyone who owns property on the road has a say in how funds are used. Time, budget and organization of the details and decision making must be managed.  Road Maintenance Agreement? Highly recommended and often required, if not for lending, by the municipalityEach town has it's own regulations regarding subdivision management and it is very rare that no legal organization will be required. Many subdivisions ultimately transfer road rights to the town. In any case, as a property owner, you will want to have written guarantee that the road to your property is safe and clear at all times.  

NEXT WEEK: Part 3 - Road Ownership Defined and the Basics of a Strong Road Maintenance Agreement. 


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    Privacy and Nature in the Heart of South Freeport

    SPAR COVE South Freeport Maine

    Once a private road, Spar Cove Rd in South Freeport now provides publicly maintained exclusively desirable access to remote living, including waterfront rights.  Enjoy the beauty and seclusion of a private neighborhood with the ease of travel year-round.  25 Spar Cove RD acreage extends all the way down to the water.  Need a break?  Take a walk through the woods on your own property, drop in a kayak, paddle out the Harraseeket River.  Have some extra time? Explore the islands. Winslow Park is part of the neighborhood. Freeport offers the best of all worlds and Spar Cove Rd is a crown jewel of Maine Lifestyle.

    25 Spar Cove RD

    The sellers of this property have logged virtually thousands of hours of birdwatching, right from this three-season sunroom. Daily walks to the shoreline, gardening, enjoying peaceful evenings on the porch are highlights of their time here.  Not shown is a fabulous basement, not considered finished, but dry and spacious enough to have served as a full wood-working shop and location of learning for their children and grand-children.  Your use is up to you! Good luck with interest in exploring all life in South Freeport has to offer, as you can stay busy right here. 


    Brett's Team Says: 

    As a reproduction of a classic Center Chimney Cape, this property has a tight-knit appeal that is delightfully pure to style, including a fireplace in the master bedroom, built-ins and large common room for relaxation and entertainment.  Some updates will inevitably be desired, but the interior warmth and intimate privacy in nature are rare in this price point. 


    Living history, loving the sea Bath Maine

    Historic City of Bath

    Give your active lifestyle an historic root in the beautiful, hardworking City of Bath Maine. With a vibrant YMCA, a renowned walk-to South End Dog Park, the Maine Maritime Museum and a deep tie to modern ship-building, Bath offers a blend of the arts, seaside living and solid community. Travel routes are in reach down east, north and south.  Make it your home, or make it your hub and soak up the sea-breezes. 


    Check out these beautiful hardwood floors, original built-ins and detailing! Bath is a great place to live Maine. This home carries the history with a modern flair. Make 34 Weeks St, Bath Maine your home! 


    Broker Perspective

    Brett's Team Says: "A lot of people looking for slightly lower-prices are starting to look in Bath.  The houses are older, and the City itself is just outside of what is generally considered "convenient to Portland".  The travel difference is really only 10 - 15 minutes. If you have interests in Camden or Augusta as well, you are really right in the middle and Bath itself has a lot offer!   This is a beautiful, solid home at a great price."

    Helpful Links

    Virtual Tour - 34 Weeks St, Bath Maine

    Trip Advisor Bath Maine


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      Closing Details Decoded: Road Maintenance Agreements and lending in Maine

      768 Hallowell Rd, Durham.  MLS # 1273773, MLS # 1273801

      The Road Less Traveled

      A primary attraction to living in Maine is remote privacy just off the beaten track. If you are looking for a natural vacation, every evening, you can find it easily enough in Freeport, Durham, North Yarmouth and throughout southern/midcoast Maine.  But be aware that the road in off the main drag is often either privately owned and managed or managed by subdivision covenants. Maintenance of the road will be part of your costs or your reliance on a unrelated party other than the municipality.  The debate over who bears the costs and the burden can be a deal killer in the final hour if your lender tells you a formal agreement is required and there isn't one.  Did you find your dream home? Is it down the dusty road? Find out in advance if it's a private road and how the costs of maintenance are managed. 

      The Lending Curve

      Brett's Team conferred with Phil Laughlin of First Financial Mortgage to understand what the requirements are for lending in Maine. What we found out is that the State of Maine does not require a formal private road maintenance agreement for lending. Phil did some double checking and told us, "The VA program is the only program that requires a formal agreement in any State.  FHA, RD and conventional loan programs are not required to have them in Maine. Where you're going to run into challenges is with internal bank loan regulations, which generally follow Fannie Mae guidelines, or with private lenders who don't have flexibility with their rates after the loan. I can always find a program that fits. My secondary rates are all the same. Lenders without as many options might tell you they can't do it." 

      So, unless you are working with the benefits of a VA loan, a formal road maintenance agreement is not required in Maine. If your lender tells you they cannot lend without a formal agreement and you can't get one, either push for a solution, or keep looking for a lender who can. 

      Benefit or Burden - the Pros and Cons of Formal Agreement on the Road
      Skirting by a lending requirement and consideration of a good idea are two different topics.  After talking to Phil about the loan side, we checked in with Jim Flemming of New England Title on the legal issues.  He gave us some great information! Check into our follow up blog next week where we'll cover the basics including: What is a Private Road? from driveway to subdivision Benefit or Burden? costs vs rights. Basics of a Strong Road Maintenance Agreement. Some nuts and bolts for covering all the bases. Until then, first and foremost, choose an agent who is aware of the particulars and can get you the answers you need about your rights to the road, before you buy or sell.  


      Brett's Team received some great news from Phil Laughlin recently. Click here to review a flyer that explains a new Rural Development Loan program option that brings home ownership affordably in reach for more Mainers. Call Phil to get qualified, and then put Brett's Team to work for you to find a great home this Fall! 


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        Brett Team Property Highlight - 7-acres to grow on in Durham Maine: Bring your horse!

        Durham, Maine - so far away - so close to everything

        If you are looking for a place to root in nature without pretense while staying connected to the cosmopolitan flair building in Portland Maine, Durham is an option to consider.  Many properties in Durham are privately placed and the roads in from the interstate are not thoroughfares to anywhere, they're just convenient to Portland, Freeport and Boston by way of train or reasonable commute. So it's peaceful in Durham. A great place to disappear on the weekend and pop up anytime. 

        768 Hallowell Rd - a rough jewel

        Typical to Durham, this property is remote - on a road of it's own.  7-acres includes a small pond, field and woodlands.  A single residence and a separate duplex are ideal for any configuration of owner occupied, rental, or in-law options. There are challenges to subdivision, this property is for the buyer who wants the homestead intact.  


        Interiors are still in a timeless state.  1940's construction, appliances and fixtures at camp level by today standards make both buildings classics standing ready for creative updates or total make over.  


        Duplex units are connected by a vestibule and door.  Both units have their own heat, kitchens and utilities, but the building as a whole could easily convert back to a single family.  


        All primary systems are in fine condition and the barn in nearly brand new. A fabulous workshop is convenient to the single family property. 


        Broker Perspective

        Brett's Team Says:  

        "This property is priced for a homeowner/investor who has creative interest in transforming a raw classic into something special.  The right eye, the right budget and the real understanding of Durham as a quiet, off-mainstream place to come home is going to fall in love with this spot. If you are willing to start basic and make it your own, you're a winner here." 

        CLICK HERE for Sales information - MLS #1273773 & 1273801 Brett's Team $225,000

        Making the Move to Maine - Links to Love

        Travel: http://www.themainemag.com/travel.html

        Weddings: http://www.williamallenfarm.com

        Food:  https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g40827-Portland_Maine.html


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          Living the life you love on Maquoit Bay - 238 Flying Point Rd, Freeport Maine


          If you have been considering a lifestyle change that will  provide you the peace you need to keep you at career peak, this is your moment. Freeport Maine is at the heart of the state's real estate resurgence. Amtrak glides through Freeport morning and evening providing a smooth commute option to Boston.  Portland is 20 minutes away.  And this 4 acre property is embraced by ocean access, conservation trails and starlit skies. 

          Maquoit Bay. Property has 199 feet private waterfront access.       

          199 feet of private waterfront access have provided the professional family of five that built this home hours of on the spot recreation and relaxation. Clams for dinner? 20 minutes of ocean breeze and solitude as quick as boots on after arrival from a day of meetings and mayhem is all it takes. Need a swim challenge? Head for the islands. Love Lobster? Set your own traps. Sail. Sit. Head for the open ocean. All this from your own back yard, anytime. 


          238 Flying Point Rd Freeport shares a boundary with the Freeport Conservation Trust East Freeport Trails - Calderwood Trail. It's literally a hop, skip and a jump to a evening excursion in nature, a morning jog or a winter's cross-country ski.  The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust is also cultivating access to the Chase Reserve nearby. Privacy is guaranteed and the benefits of an oasis of natural beauty are priceless. Eagle sightings are common on the property. 


          Brett Davis has been part of the Maine real estate scene for over 21 years.  His local, independent broker team is a core representative of properties in the Freeport area and surrounds.  His insights on market value are based on observations and experience updated daily. He is excited to offer 238 Flying Point RD, Freeport Maine to the next savvy buyer who steps up to the opportunity. 

          "This home was designed and built by the current owners and they love it!  Designed to take in the view from every room and highlight the winter Christmas Tree from the outside, the interior hosts plenty of light, family warmth and room to grow. Freeport is smoking hot right now and has been for several years.  Most buyers are willing to sacrifice location, lot size and privacy for really nice bricks and mortar instantaneously, just to be here. That being said, this property has gone to market priced to sell without changing a thing to the home. The buyer is someone who really understands and loves the value of the location and is excited by the opportunity to make the property their own. It's a once in a lifetime thing." 


          The state’s real estate is bouncing back, and new home buyers are confident, informed and here for a reason. - Maine Magazine, May 2016

          Click the picture below to join us Ocean Front, Freeport Maine!


          Links of Interest:

          Maquoit Bay Protected: https://www.tpl.org/media-room/167-acres-maquoit-bay-protected-me

          Freeport Conservation Trust: https://www.freeportconservationtrust.org/areas/east-freeport-trails/

          Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust: www.btlt.org/