When shopping for a home, there’s a possibility that you may come across a property that’s sharing a driveway with the home next door. That means that one driveway needs to be shared between the two adjoining neighbors.
If shared driveways are common in the community that you’re looking at buying in, then you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that the property you’ve got your eye on has one. That said, the purchase price should reflect that. For instance, a home with its own private driveway might possibly sell for more money than a home with a shared driveway. This will be helpful when putting in an offer on a home.
Before buying a home with a shared driveway, there are a few things you should take into consideration first.
Determine Any Existing Covenants
It’s important to identify whether or not there are any covenants that outline the rules of sharing the area.
For instance, is the driveway shared equally between both neighbors? Who is responsible for maintenance and repair of the driveway? What are the restrictions, if any, about parking vehicles? How and where is the shared driveway easement recorded? The answers to these questions are important before a decision is made on whether or not to buy a home with a shared driveway, as it can impact how you enjoy your home.
For the most part, there are written rules regarding shared driveways that are recorded on subdivision plans as easements or covenants on the deeds of the homes that are sharing the driveway. However, there may also be times when a separate deed for the shared driveway under the easement exists. If there is ever a dispute between the two property owners regarding the shared driveway, it will be important to identify how the deeds are recorded.
Get a Copy of the Survey
If you are considering purchasing a property with a shared driveway, make sure to ask your real estate agent to obtain a survey map and the recorded information about the shared driveway first. This will help you determine the actual ownership interest and exactly where the easement boundaries are located.
It should be noted that a shared driveway doesn’t necessarily mean equal ownership with the neighbor. It’s possible that one property owner owns the whole driveway while the other owner only has certain rights to use it. The surveyor who prepares the survey will mark off the boundaries of the property so you can identify how much of the driveway you actually own.
Ask For a Copy of Any Agreements
The seller should provide you with a copy of any agreements that might exist related to the shared driveway. In many cases, there are rules already in place that stipulate how the shared driveway is to be cared for and how disputes should be handled.
Most of the time, there is little issue with sharing a driveway as long as both neighbors act in a considerate manner and practice common sense. However, there are certainly times when disagreements arise as a result of how a shared driveway is being used.
For example, one neighbor might take up too much of the space for parking, or is causing damage to the driveway. There are definitely plenty of scenarios that can play out when two neighbors are sharing the same driveway, which can be a huge disadvantage in terms of a buying a home with this type of easement.
It’s pretty common for there to be written rules included in the legal documentation for the property where the shared driveway is.
If the seller doesn’t have any or wasn’t even aware that the driveway was shared, such information should be researched during the title search of the property.
Be Very Detailed With Your Purchase Contract
If you’re concerned that a potential dispute could arise, consider writing up an offer that requires the seller to provide a written document outlining the shared driveway and how it is to be shared and used between both property owners.
The agreement should be very detailed and include stipulations regarding how maintenance and repair costs are to be allocated and completed, how much of the driveway is actually owned by one neighbor over the other, what your specific rights regarding use of the driveway will be, and so forth.
The Bottom Line
Put in an offer only after you’ve identified how much – if any – ownership you would have of a shared driveway and what the current rules are governing how it is to be maintained. You want to be certain that you can comfortably live with the current arrangement before you decide to buy a home with a shared driveway. Luckily, your real estate agent will be able to help you gather the appropriate documentation regarding the rules and use of the shared driveway so you can make an informed decision.