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Old 01-14-2010, 01:16 PM
 
2 posts, read 9,331 times
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Default Private Roads?

I am looking into buying a home on a private road in Gray. I need to do more research (i.e., speak to someone in charge of the road association about fees, maintenance, etc.) but does anyone have any insight into private roads and the nuances that come with living on one? Why would a road be private and how can you get them to be public? We have a camp on a private road but that is a little difference. This is a year round subdivision.
Thanks for any information.
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Waldo County
1,220 posts, read 2,560,386 times
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Make sure that there is a property owners agreement in place, and that the subdivision developer has or will guarantee to maintain the road until the entire subdivision is sold out. In order to get the road accepted as a town road, the road will have to meet town road standards with regard to size, construction, drainage and perhaps other things, IF the town will even consider accepting the road at all.

Subdivisions are tricky and I know of people who bought land in a subdivision and found that the only people interested in keeping the road plowed was them, and there was no way to compell the subdivider or the seasonal neighbors to contribute to the plowing OR maintenance of the road. One spring a culvert washed out, and I'll give you three guesses who had to pay for the road repair, and the first two guesses won't count....read the fine print in the subdivision VERY carefully.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Gorham, Maine
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There should be a copy of the Road Maintenance Agreement on file at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds that you need to read and understand. Perhaps the listing broker has it online on MLS for your buyer agent. If not, your buyer agent can request a copy from the listing agent or get one from the Registry. You and your lender need to know how much are the annual dues, what do they cover (plowing and maintenance), is there a reserve fund, who plows the individual driveways, who collects the annual dues and where are they deposited, etc. You will not be able to finance your home without this document as that fee needs to be calculated with your principal, interest, taxes and insurance and many private roads don't have one when the house gets listed. If that is the case, the listing broker has to scramble to get a document drawn up and signed by all of the owners and then has to have it recorded at the Registry. Since this is an established sub-division, there should be documents available. You also want to read the covenants of the Homeowners Association to make sure the house is the right fit for you. Make sure you get the recorded copy of all documents and not draft copies, as they often change prior to the recording date.

As for public vs. private, it depends on whether the road was built to town specifications by the developer. Check with town hall to learn about when the road was built and what the plans are for the future. Some private roads have curbside mail and trash pick up and some have a cluster mail box at the main road and trash only picked up there. In my sub-division, the last home was completed in early 2004 and the town finally accepted the road in 2006 or 2007. Until then, we had to put up with second rate plowing from the developer while the rest of the town had much better service. We did get trash and mail, though.

You'll also want to check the condition of the road and examine the reserves on file to make sure that there is enough money to maintain it and realize that there are certain buyers who will not buy a home on a private road (just like some won't buy a home with a well or septic system) when it comes time for you to sell. Best of luck to you.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:14 PM
 
Location: Ellsworth
435 posts, read 608,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlmya View Post
I am looking into buying a home on a private road in Gray. I need to do more research (i.e., speak to someone in charge of the road association about fees, maintenance, etc.) but does anyone have any insight into private roads and the nuances that come with living on one? Why would a road be private and how can you get them to be public? We have a camp on a private road but that is a little difference. This is a year round subdivision.
Thanks for any information.
Ditto what Acadia Lion says. We live on a private road with no association. It's every man for himself. Some won't pay the plow guy a cent or contribute to the twice yearly grading - and the guy is a neighbor on the road. To bring the road up to code would costs tens of thousands of dollars with no guarantee that the city will take it over.

Some folks who have purchased property on the road have been told that it's a city maintained road so it's best to do lots of research before you buy.

We knew all that up front but we really, really wanted to live on the water. We have a 4WD and were willing to put a plow on it if we needed to and we have a tractor. We're the last year round place on the road and we treat our plow guy very respectfully and always pay on time.

If you do decide to buy on a private road with no association keep in mind that the topic of road maintenance can quickly become heated and will be an ongoing concern to all....except the ones who don't pay. For them you wish for blizzards LOL
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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We have friends who area a part of a 'Road Association', for them it is a nightmare.

When we were shopping for land we looked at a few properties that had 'Road Associations' or HOAs. In each case, it seemed to us that it could quickly become a nightmare.

If you are retired; and if you own a bulldozer; and if you do not mind maintaining that road as your personal hobby free of charge; then I say go for it.

Of course your results may vary.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Gorham, Maine
1,654 posts, read 2,644,039 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by American girl View Post


Ditto what Acadia Lion says. We live on a private road with no association. It's every man for himself. Some won't pay the plow guy a cent or contribute to the twice yearly grading - and the guy is a neighbor on the road. To bring the road up to code would costs tens of thousands of dollars with no guarantee that the city will take it over.

Some folks who have purchased property on the road have been told that it's a city maintained road so it's best to do lots of research before you buy.

We knew all that up front but we really, really wanted to live on the water. We have a 4WD and were willing to put a plow on it if we needed to and we have a tractor. We're the last year round place on the road and we treat our plow guy very respectfully and always pay on time.

If you do decide to buy on a private road with no association keep in mind that the topic of road maintenance can quickly become heated and will be an ongoing concern to all....except the ones who don't pay. For them you wish for blizzards LOL
Good points, AG. In addition to having an association, somebody needs to run it - a thankless task. I don't understand how anybody could buy without knowing the status, as the deed will refer to another document(s) and will be picked up by any title search. Make sure you read all these documents carefully before writing your offer.
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Old 01-14-2010, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
6,137 posts, read 7,810,855 times
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There are many scenarios regarding private roads. If you buy a lot two miles back in the woods and build a camp there, you can't compel the timber company to maintain the road to your camp. That said, if you buy a 45 acre lot in a subdivision of a dozen lots, the majority of the lotowners can form an association and vote an annual fee to maintain the road. That's state law. They don't "have" to form an association. They "may" form one. Once the association is formed all lot owners can be billed their annual assessment, even those who voted against the association. If they don't pay, the association can put a lien on the property. Eventually they will get their money.

Some will view all this as a wonderful thing. Some will be horrified by it. Life goes on. Go in with your eyes wide open. Most private roads are maintained with a voluntary informal arrangement. Associations with big problems are the exception, not the rule in Northern Maine.
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Old 01-14-2010, 05:43 PM
 
1,061 posts, read 1,078,361 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
There are many scenarios regarding private roads. If you buy a lot two miles back in the woods and build a camp there, you can't compel the timber company to maintain the road to your camp. That said, if you buy a 45 acre lot in a subdivision of a dozen lots, the majority of the lotowners can form an association and vote an annual fee to maintain the road. That's state law. They don't "have" to form an association. They "may" form one. Once the association is formed all lot owners can be billed their annual assessment, even those who voted against the association. If they don't pay, the association can put a lien on the property. Eventually they will get their money.

Some will view all this as a wonderful thing. Some will be horrified by it. Life goes on. Go in with your eyes wide open. Most private roads are maintained with a voluntary informal arrangement. Associations with big problems are the exception, not the rule in Northern Maine.
Any idea what happens if a visitor has an accident on a private road, whom he might sue--possibly by saying the road was dangerous because of improper maintenance or faulty design?
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Gorham, Maine
1,654 posts, read 2,644,039 times
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I'm not a lawyer, but I would assume the suit would be filed against the Homeowners Association, of which each owner has a share in. Great question, though.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:07 PM
 
Location: Northern Maine
6,137 posts, read 7,810,855 times
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"Any idea what happens if a visitor has an accident on a private road, whom he might sue--possibly by saying the road was dangerous because of improper maintenance or faulty design?"

Glad you asked. In Maine if you enter onto somebody else's property for recreational purposes you do so at your own risk. If you fall over his barbed wire fence, drive into his ditch, hit his fallen tree while on your snowmobile or fall out of a tree stand you are on your own. The landowner is not responsible for you. That is the biggest reason you can ride around all day and never see a "No Trespassing" sign. If you don't like the looks of a private road, don't drive on it. In fact, please don't drive on it in the spring before the frost is out of the ground. It costs money to maintain a road and every year private roads are vandalized by people trying to see if they can get stuck.

Don't worry about who you can sue. You won't get anywhere.
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