It comes as no surprise that there are a thousand issues to think about before you buy property. Naturally one would think of major issues like price, location, improvements on the property (like buildings and so on), and a host of other aspects. But there is one other facet of buying property that does come as a surprise, at least to some folks.
At this point, as you likely have predicted, it's time to take yet another imaginary journey. Picture it: a beautiful piece of property on the Oregon coast. This particular piece of property overlooks the ocean on one side and abuts Highway 101 on the other side. It has a couple of large pine trees on the coastal side that sway in the (ever-present) breeze. Empty and undeveloped, this piece of land is quite nice.
One day, Daggett the Dreamer happens to drive by this wonderful piece of property. Upon seeing the breathtaking view and the “For Sale” sign on the side of the road, he stops abruptly in the middle of the highway, causing a local behind him to swerve and smash his truck into the nearby ditch. Completely oblivious to the wreckage, Daggett continues to stare at the breathtaking view and the sign. He punches the number on the sign into his cell phone. Satisfied, Daggett moves along again.
The local is shaking an angry fist out of his window. But Daggett has already gone.
Eventually Daggett the Dreamer stops dreaming his wonderful dream and buys that piece of land.
After the sale has closed, Daggett wants immediately to begin building a road so that he can bring in some equipment and start constructing his dream house.
So he levels out an approach from the highway and fills it in with gravel.
One day, however, as Daggett is driving in on the gravel road, he hears a loud “pop!” He stops his truck and gets out. Casually, he looks at the surface of the road, only to find it littered with nails and sharp-looking tacks. Suddenly, he hears a low snicker. Daggett turns, and from the corner of his eye he spots a gnome-ish looking fellow disappearing into the trees. Daggett can make out only one word on the back of fellow’s t-shirt: “ODOT.”
This was odd. Daggett knows that ODOT doesn’t employ gnomes, much less gnomes who sabotage peoples’ driveways. All the same, Daggett figures he should give ODOT a call.
Sure enough, ODOT knows nothing about the gnome. But they do point out one major problem: ODOT controls access to this particular stretch of highway, and Daggett doesn’t have an “approach permit” for his driveway.
Daggett thinks this is ok. "Fine," he replies. He’d be happy to apply for an approach permit.
ODOT shows him where to get the application.
A few days go by and Daggett continues to use his driveway. Once again, he hears a loud “pop!” This time Daggett flies out of his truck in a flash, but once again he is too late. The road is littered with nails and tacks, and the gnome scurries off into the trees. Daggett is furious.
Daggett calls ODOT again. ODOT, naturally, denies any association with the vigilante gnome. But they do point out another problem— they cannot process Daggett’s approach permit. Daggett’s property doesn’t have a reservation of access, they say. Without a reservation of access, he can’t even apply for an approach permit.
Daggett shakes his head against the phone. “Huh?” he replies. “So what do I do?”
“Well,” ODOT calmly explains, “you can apply for a grant of access.”
“Ok,” says Daggett, trying to compose himself. “How do I do that?”
“Well,” ODOT begins again, “the process usually takes from about six to twelve months. There’s a $2000 application fee for our efforts, with no guarantee that the grant of access will be approved.”
“Huh?” repeats Daggett.
“If your grant of access is approved,” ODOT goes on, “you’ll also have to pay the fair market value of that grant of access… in other words, the difference between the value of your property with the access and the value of your property without it.”
“Auggh!” cries Daggett. He nearly loses his mind. In a fit of unnatural rage, he suddenly takes his cell phone and throws it over the cliff and into the ocean.
It's a travesty. No one knows what happened to Daggett after that. Legend has it that he bought an “ODOT” shirt... and can sometimes be seen on the side of the highway, hunched over, carrying a bucket full of very sharp nails and tacks. But no one can say for sure.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Check your access rights before you buy property, of course! Even then, things can go awry, and (you guessed it) a lawyer gets involved. Sometimes even the utmost caution can still lead to difficulty.
But at least you won't end up like Daggett.