Appraiser dictating shared driveway easement?

6 Replies

We are only a few days from closing on a fourplex and our bank has come back and said that because the appraiser said there is a shared driveway the seller must get an easement with the neighboring owner stating this and attaching the easement to the properties. Although the driveways are narrow and touch, there are two clearly separate driveways. There are several issues here. First, we disagree with the appraiser’s assertion this is a shared driveway. Secondly, neither our realtor nor our banker have encountered this situation where the appraiser is dictating what is a shared driveway. Third, there is no way to compel the neighboring owner to sign this easement and its up to our seller to pursue this request. I’m not really sure what to do. We can either push our bank for a second appraisal or find another lender. We really don’t want to accept the easement because it’s not correct and it has never been added in the 70 year history of the property. Has anyone encountered anything like this? Any resolutions?

Appraisers can get things wrong, just have to document how and it should be resolved.  Perhaps a written submission to underwriting explaining that the driveway is on the property line, as is the neighbors, so they touch, that doesn't mean they are shared.  Include photos and an illustration with measurements showing the driveway on your property is plenty wide for a vehicle, hopefully that satisfies them.

The fact that they touch and may (or may not) be shared, doesn't in and of itself mean that there is a need for an easement. If both properties have full access on their portion, without a need to utilize the other half, then there is no need for a shared driveway easement/agreement. 

A easier solution to this issue may be a letter/affadavit/agreement to record against title between the two owners. The agreement can be as simple as to say the 'property owner A' and property owner 'B' hereby acknowledge the proximity of their respective driveways and affirm that neither property has any easement right/necessity over the other.

The concern here from a lender/title perspective is the ability to claim a prescriptive easement right. The acknowledgement being recorded against title puts the world on notice, so that anyone that buys this property couldn't ever claim prescriptive rights later.

Thank you to everyone for the feedback. We fought our bank lender pretty hard and eventually the appraiser relented and didn't force the shared driveway easement. I still don't understand how an appraiser could simply say something is shared and be taken as gospel without any history of easement issues or a survey. At least this way we don't have the encumbrance of an easement should we go to sell or refi. 

Cheers, 

Josh

I just had a similar situation take place on a property I was selling. The appraiser would not adjust his wording and we ended up having to terminate the contract. This was a VA loan, so I assume they were being too strict with the requirements. I thought it was crazy as well, just because an appraiser says a driveway is shared that the contract fell through. I went to the neighbor's to notarize an agreement that the driveway was shared and all maintenance would be 50/50, but it wasn't enough for them. The lender was also requiring we get easement language in our agreement that the neighbors lender would ALSO have to sign off on. This house was built in 1987 and has never had an issue until this VA lender came in the picture.

This also came up AFTER we agreed to drop our purchase price $15k when the appraisal came in low.

And this is why investors don't like to accept VA offers..

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