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austin1972

Flag Lots - Any Real Estate People Here?

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So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

image.png.f37012d95735eb9b966e55e56d9163ec.png

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THIS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.   THIS IS GENERAL FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT REAL PROPERTY IN MICHIGAN AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE SOLICITATION OR ADVERTISEMENT.

Flag lots are created for various reasons. 

The 'flagpole' portion may have been reserved for an existing use for the benefit of another parcel (here, it would have been the parcel immediately to the west of the flagpole's base).  The title search should reveal if there are any existing easements or covenants that burden your parcel.  Even without info in the chain of title, you or your agent MUST physically inspect the land and make sure there are no uses that would put you 'on notice' that someone else may have a right to use or occupy that portion.  If there is an existing easement that has not been used in a while, you may be able to terminate it.

If not from an old easement or use, the flag lot may be a vestige left when the the owner split off another piece of a specific size, shape, area, or to include a specific feature of the land - here that would be the piece to the SW of your parcel.  If the parcel owners adjoining your pole strip fenced in their lots, you'll have an effective corridor that may funnel wildlife right onto your land.  My buddy's dear camp parcel in the U.P. has a similar setup, and he sets his blind up looking right down the aisle, and gets good deer every season.  Note that while DNR regs prohibit firing a gun within X yards of another residence, in practice in Michigan's rural areas most neighbors have an unwritten agreement that they all kill shit off their back porches, so talk to them.

Also, you will want to be 100% sure that you are allowed to build what you want given the setback and area requirements and outbuilding limitations of the zoning district.

Finally, check into the laws on splits.  If you only want a pole barn, you may be able to split the property to allow a home site, leaving yourself an easement for ingress/egress and adding significant value to the property for your heirs.

Finally, it's an area where quite a few very restrictive conservation easements have been placed over Ag land over the past 15 years, so check into that too.

 

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We have lots of properties like that in our area, although I live in a pretty dense city. In addition to Clean's advice there are a few other things to keep in mind. Other property owners utilites often cross these lots so they will probably have easments for access on your potential property for repair etc. This can restrict development options for you as well. Your utilities may have to cross other properties, so you need to insure the right of access for service as well. In our area if you build there has to be access with a minimum width for emergency services. I assume some day you will need septic? if so finding space on skinny lots can be hard since no parking or paving is allowed nearby. The end result can be a title report that looks like a novel. In more rural areas with larger lots these things are probably less of a problem, but study the situation.

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2 minutes ago, steele said:

The end result can be a title report that looks like a novel.

My firm loves those

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53 minutes ago, austin1972 said:

So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

image.png.f37012d95735eb9b966e55e56d9163ec.png

Looks a bit familiar but mine is funnier in shape.

If that's a road along the S property line, the reason is probably similar. The amount of road frontage looks simlar to the two lots next to it.

Here, you must have 50 feet of road frontage and ten acres or more overall to build. Each property, mine included, has a 50' strip leading to the road. The idea was to cut it into the largest possible number of buildable lots.

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58 minutes ago, austin1972 said:

So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

image.png.f37012d95735eb9b966e55e56d9163ec.png

That is a lot of neighbors to "get along" with....

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Usually a "flag lot" refers to a lot that is behind others, and has a narrow strip to the street for the required legal road frontage.  I would not call that a flag lot, with the narrow strip leading to another lot, and I would question if someone else has a right-of-way on it.  Otherwise, why would they shape the lot like that.  I was in real estate nearly 30 years, and my family developed more than a few subdivisions over the years. One cousin is still a custom home builder, and his wife, who was my former partner in our firm is still in brokerage.

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1 hour ago, austin1972 said:

So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

image.png.f37012d95735eb9b966e55e56d9163ec.png

Take it to the Gerrymander thread:ph34r:

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11 minutes ago, warbird said:

Take it to the Gerrymander thread:ph34r:

 

8 minutes ago, austin1972 said:

No shit!

Most lots in my last subdivision had a 10 foot Electric utility easement between lots. Total 20 foot for power poles. All the utilities were buried, the easement was a residual of old township development rules. The Utility released my easement for a $30 filing fee.

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There’s a guy here who bought a piece of land that has no access or easement of any kind. I’m not even sure how that can happen He’s a developer/realtor here, my neighbors relative, though they’re not speaking. The owner of the surrounding land told him he would have to use a helicopter to cut the field. It actually couldn’t happen to a bigger fuckknuckle, I had a good laugh.

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3 minutes ago, chum said:

There’s a guy here who bought a piece of land that has no access or easement of any kind. I’m not even sure how that can happen He’s a developer/realtor here, my neighbors relative, though they’re not speaking. The owner of the surrounding land told him he would have to use a helicopter to cut the field. It actually couldn’t happen to a bigger fuckknuckle, so I had a good laugh.

I think townships have an "easement" ordinance to cover land locked parcels.

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1 hour ago, warbird said:

I think townships have an "easement" ordinance to cover land locked parcels.

It's all very local, these kind of laws vary widely, though if a developer took title knowing it was landlocked with no easements, he's generally fucked.  If however he found something in the history of the title or surrounding titles that leads him to believe that there may be an actual or prescriptive easement or some other strategy to get one, it might be worth the potential loss on the property, assuming he got it for a song.  I've known development lawyers who used historic aerial photos to show a horse path through a property more than 100 years ago, and use those, newspaper stories, old address designations, and other historic records to successfully argue that an easement had been acquired by use and never extinguished despite there being no current evidence of the existence of the road, now covered by a maple forest probably 75 years old.

Other reasons to get landlocked property: He believes he can negotiate something with a surrounding landowner, either now or when a current one sells or dies (maybe he made a deal with the heir of the surrounding property and the owner is old?)

Or he is doing an assembly, and this was a cheap acquisition to begin it. 

Or he wants the power to vote on something in an area Water District that requires land ownership.

Or he can easily get his money back plus damages because the seller made representations about access.

Or he could just be a shitty developer with a shitty lawyer or title agent.   

 

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1 hour ago, MR.CLEAN said:

It's all very local, these kind of laws vary widely, though if a developer took title knowing it was landlocked with no easements, he's generally fucked.  If however he found something in the history of the title or surrounding titles that leads him to believe that there may be an actual or prescriptive easement or some other strategy to get one, it might be worth the potential loss on the property, assuming he got it for a song.  I've known development lawyers who used historic aerial photos to show a horse path through a property more than 100 years ago, and use those, newspaper stories, old address designations, and other historic records to successfully argue that an easement had been acquired by use and never extinguished despite there being no current evidence of the existence of the road, now covered by a maple forest probably 75 years old.

Other reasons to get landlocked property: He believes he can negotiate something with a surrounding landowner, either now or when a current one sells or dies (maybe he made a deal with the heir of the surrounding property and the owner is old?)

Or he is doing an assembly, and this was a cheap acquisition to begin it. 

Or he wants the power to vote on something in an area Water District that requires land ownership.

Or he can easily get his money back plus damages because the seller made representations about access.

Or he could just be a shitty developer with a shitty lawyer or title agent.   

 

True on all points. I have worked with a few owners of true flag properties. They have a 10 foot wide driveway, sometimes 2000 feet long. They either build a virtual parking lot for visitors in their yard or visitors walk half a mile from nearest parking. 

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4 hours ago, austin1972 said:

So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

image.png.f37012d95735eb9b966e55e56d9163ec.png

Largely used for right of way purposes, you ought to find out about that to begin with. Second you're paying taxes (and cost) for a bunch of land that looks basically unusable

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39 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

Largely used for right of way purposes, you ought to find out about that to begin with. Second you're paying taxes (and cost) for a bunch of land that looks basically unusable

I can use that space to grow pot and make wildflower gardens/cool quad path to a fire pit with benches and a disco ball attached to a drill hanging from a tree.

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34 minutes ago, austin1972 said:

I can use that space to grow pot and make wildflower gardens/cool quad path to a fire pit with benches and a disco ball attached to a drill hanging from a tree.

EEEEEENNNNHHHHH.......... Not so much....

There's a reason the property is shaped that way, and it't's not because they thought it would be a cool place for a fire pit and a disco ball.

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You could dig a canal and take a paddle boat to and from the disco fire pit.

I think there are a ton of novel options here that should be explored.

 

We can help!   

Well, not with the work or the cash.  We are the idea people here.

 

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1 hour ago, austin1972 said:

I can use that space to grow pot and make wildflower gardens/cool quad path to a fire pit with benches and a disco ball attached to a drill hanging from a tree.

They are not so rare. Drag an old Checker Cab out there, facing away from the fire. Open the trunk lid. Set a cozy love seat in there. The trunk lid is your rainy nite umbrella:ph34r:

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3 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

EEEEEENNNNHHHHH.......... Not so much....

There's a reason the property is shaped that way, and it't's not because they thought it would be a cool place for a fire pit and a disco ball.

This. Can you find out why the land was subdivided in this way?  Zoning that required minimum frontage and minimum lot size or something not so innocent. Most flag lots I’ve seen are done to make deeded access to isolated lot since easements are a problem for a lot of lenders.  

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If you look at the overall picture it seriously looks like the roads were imposed on top of previous squares of land.

My land is what you call a flag lot, because when the original land was enclosed (1812) , the owner of this site gained a U of land ( with a very fat bottom)  round an existing property.  Later (1964) one leg of the U was sold off to the nearby farmer. Leaving me with a flag.. 

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18 hours ago, austin1972 said:

So, I'm looking at a piece of land in MI. I want out of IL and to get closer to my cottage. I've found a nice lot - 5.7 wooded acres with utilities at the road. This will work well because I don't want a yard to mow - I'll just make some open space and plant wildflowers, and I need area to build a pole barn for some cars and a boat.

The thing is, it's called a flag lot. Does anyone know the good or bad about it? Just wondering if anyone has experience with this type of lot.

Thanks!

 

So you are selling the farm?

 

 

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6 hours ago, random said:

So you are selling the farm?

 

 

As long as he hasn't bought the farm...

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On 9/6/2019 at 4:23 PM, Mrleft8 said:

Largely used for right of way purposes, you ought to find out about that to begin with. Second you're paying taxes (and cost) for a bunch of land that looks basically unusable

 

True, the abutting owners of that "flag" might be willing to give you a few bucks for it, and it's of little use to you, but I doubt it will reduce the taxes, as it is still a developed building lot, which has a base assessment, and excess acreage is taxed at a much lower assessed value.  We owned a building lot in a family developed subdivision.  When an attorney for an abutting owner asked me to sign an agreement stating that I had no claim any of that land, I investigated further.  Turns out there was a 12 acre parcel that might have actually been part of the much larger parcel of raw land that Grandfather had purchased in 1950.  So, we went to court for a land dispute resolution, and he wound up with 10 of the 12 acres, and I got enough to make an additional building lot behind our subdivision that I sold to a friend for a tidy profit, after paying surveyor's, legal, and filing fees at the Town Hall.

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31 minutes ago, billy backstay said:

.  When an attorney for an abutting owner asked me to sign an agreement stating that I had no claim any of that land, I investigated further.  

:)

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15 hours ago, random said:

So you are selling the farm?

 

 

No...maybe. I have farm hands and most of my work is accounting/planning as it stands now. If the tariff war keeps up, I may develop the farm. It's impossible to make it profitable in the current climate and I don't know if the markets will come back. Brazil jumped on infrastructure when they saw us going full on stupid and can deliver competitively now.

I like the boat idea. Maybe a gondola instead of a paddle boat. The Checkered cab idea works well too.

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38 minutes ago, austin1972 said:

I like the boat idea. Maybe a gondola instead of a paddle boat. The Checkered cab idea works well too.

You are going to need a serious upgrade in your wardrobe;

gondolier-venice-unesco-world-heritage-s

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1 minute ago, Cal20sailor said:

You're are going to need a serious upgrade in your wardrobe;

gondolier-venice-unesco-world-heritage-s

What, you don't have that getup in your closet? Man, some people just have no style. How do you dress when you go out for breakfast?

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What kind of morons lay out streets at a 45 degree angle to section lines in the first place? What a clusterfuck. That's the root of this particular evil. Find the original plat map of the larger area to see if you can figure out why this happened.  

I'm a licensed land surveyor in CA and that parceling smells like trouble from a distance. Especially if it's a "bargain" for the area.

Keep looking. I'm sure you can find something better than this.

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From what I remember from my real estate 101 class, Flag lot are usually to keep the word easement off the title. Lenders like it when the the words like private easement are not on a title.  In you case appears there is no road access to pole portion.  

 

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11 hours ago, nacradriver said:

From what I remember from my real estate 101 class, Flag lot are usually to keep the word easement off the title. Lenders like it when the the words like private easement are not on a title.  In you case appears there is no road access to pole portion.  

 

Yes, but many subdivisions zoning require some road frontage, and they will not approve a lot with R.O.W. access over another parcel or lot.  R.O.W's are usually found with developed lots that were developed before zoning.

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My property in Connecticut was a flag lot with the "pole" being a driveway to the "paved" road (Which often was only partially paved). On my deed was a row for another lot that was just beyond mine. We all got along just fine, and the neighbors would plow the snow and help pay for new gravel etc. when needed.... One day a year, when the neighbor's would be on vacation, I would "deny access" to their property by putting up a saw horse, thereby keeping it a private driveway, with a row, instead of a "common access road".....

 When I sold the property this question came up, and I had 26 years of photographic proof.... It makes a difference.

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14 hours ago, nacradriver said:

From what I remember from my real estate 101 class, Flag lot are usually to keep the word easement off the title. Lenders like it when the the words like private easement are not on a title.  In you case appears there is no road access to pole portion.  

 

There is no road access from the pole area. As you can see, there are a lot of wonky street angles in the area.

image.thumb.png.ee4dc724d4a5aa67488d1476ce0ec9eb.png

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2 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

My property in Connecticut was a flag lot with the "pole" being a driveway to the "paved" road (Which often was only partially paved). On my deed was a row for another lot that was just beyond mine. We all got along just fine, and the neighbors would plow the snow and help pay for new gravel etc. when needed.... One day a year, when the neighbor's would be on vacation, I would "deny access" to their property by putting up a saw horse, thereby keeping it a private driveway, with a row, instead of a "common access road".....

 When I sold the property this question came up, and I had 26 years of photographic proof.... It makes a difference.

 

I don't think so.

Adverse possession. If he already had a deeded, legal R.O.W., why bother? It's not like he could get any more than that, even with a successful adverse possession claim...

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36 minutes ago, billy backstay said:

 

I don't think so.

Adverse possession. If he already had a deeded, legal R.O.W., why bother? It's not like he could get any more than that, even with a successful adverse possession claim...

No. he (the neighbor) had a deeded row that stipulated that the property was mine, but he had the right to access it. According to my attorney, and real estate agent, I had to deny him access one day a year to keep that part of the property on my deed as opposed to a communal road way. And having sole ownership of road front on an interior lot is worth a very small but important bit of value.

 That may all have changed in the last 30 years, but in 1991 it was important.

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https://www.google.com/maps/place/614+West+St,+Guilford,+CT+06437/@41.3628368,-72.7455002,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e7d2e4ef2dcb73:0x7d06e494e934c816!8m2!3d41.3628368!4d-72.7433115

 Interesting, but in a way sad, to see how built up the area has become in just 6 years...... Or is it 7 now?..... Must be 7....

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10 hours ago, Mrleft8 said:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/614+West+St,+Guilford,+CT+06437/@41.3628368,-72.7455002,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e7d2e4ef2dcb73:0x7d06e494e934c816!8m2!3d41.3628368!4d-72.7433115

 Interesting, but in a way sad, to see how built up the area has become in just 6 years...... Or is it 7 now?..... Must be 7....

 

I don't go to Guilford except seldomly, but as far as I can tell, it hasn't changed that much??

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2 hours ago, billy backstay said:

 

I don't go to Guilford except seldomly, but as far as I can tell, it hasn't changed that much??

It's changed immensely. The parts that a casual visitor might see are different from what a 50 some odd year resident sees over the course of decades.

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8 minutes ago, Mrleft8 said:

It's changed immensely. The parts that a casual visitor might see are different from what a 50 some odd year resident sees over the course of decades.

 

I expect the same can be said for every shoreline town.  Essex and Deep River have changed, Chester not so much..

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