Welcome back for more simple explanations of real estate terms. Ever walk or drive down a residential street and see a driveway between two homes that appears to not lead to either home? Chances are it leads to a lot hidden behind those homes, typically referred to as a flag lot (also sometimes called a land lot).
Take a look at our simple diagram of a residential block below. It’s a plat map with location and dimension data left off. We see the shaded area as 104 Miller Street, a flag lot. The entrance off Miller Street is a driveway leading to the larger area behind 102 Miller Street. That shaded area kinda looks like a flag, so wahlah! A flag lot.
How are flag lots created? Many are the product of “lot splitting” or subdividing – the process of taking one lot and turning it into two (or more) lots. Often the owner of a large lot wants to sell off some of his land and use the proceeds of the sale to finance construction on the part he will keep. Some flag lots were created when the street was originally surveyed, just because that’s how the original owners drew boundary lines at the time.
An advantage of owning a flag lot is that the property is surrounded by other lots and street noise is greatly reduced. If there is a fence around the lot, adding a gate to the driveway increases security.
A disadvantage of owning a flag lot is that the property is surrounded by neighbors who must be relied upon to help with maintenance of common fences. Being surrounded by one or more noisy neighbors could be another disadvantage. Should the structure ever catch fire, having access to the property through only one relatively small driveway could reduce the speed and efficiency with which the fire department could reach the property and put out the fire.
Flag Lot Valuations
I’m often asked if flag lots have a lower or higher market value than adjacent lots. As with any property, it depends upon the lot. I once toured a home on a one acre flag lot that was elevated about 20 feet higher than the surrounding lots. The home was like a castle with 360 degree views and it was the most expensive home for miles. But generally speaking, homes with normal street frontage will have a higher value than a flag lot.
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