Hill Road, Lane County Real Estate

Hill Road is a beautiful little loop in the scenic Mohawk Valley in Lane County, Oregon.  Hobby farms and country properties abound, and homes with acreage are popular, but not frequently on the market.  Properties with both river frontage and valley view are present along Hill Road.  One especially attractive apspect is that it’s only 10 minutes to Springfield

The Mohawk Valley is east northeast of Springfield and generally follows Marcola Road through the town of Marcola.  Hill Road loops from Old Mohawk Road and returns back to Marcola Road after about 4 1/2 miles.  Only about 120 properties exist on Hill Road, ranging from 1/3 acre to 116 acres, with 5 acre parcels being the most common.

The County shows the value of properties along Hill Road from about 50K to over 650K, with a median value of around 250K.  Property Sales data from RMLS over the last 24 months reveal 1 active, no pendings  and 5 solds.  Prices ranged from 160K to 399K, and average price per square foot was:  $123/SF.

Zoning designations common along Hill Road are:  RR5, F2 and EFU.  It is not within any UGB designation, so land development and building permits are controlled by Lane County.  Hill Road is in the Springfield School District, and schools are Yolanda, Briggs, and Thurston.

Hill Road was named after the Hill Family, who lived at least through the 1950s of what is now McKenzie View and Hill Roads.  The area around Hill Road was originally settled by four pioneering families in the mid 1800’s:  The Scotts, Washburns, Listers and McGowans.  It has been slowly subdivided and built up since then.  Further building and development is possible, although rare, due to Lane County’s restrictive zoning ordinances.

Interesting features along Hill Road are:

  • The Mohawk River:  Approximately 30 miles long.  It joins the McKenzie River along McKenzie View Drive.  The Mohawk has no dams on it and is flood prone during  heavy rains.
  • Spores Creek:  Named after the pioneer who named the Mohawk Valley.  It crosses underneath Hill Road about midway down its length.
  • The abandoned Weyerhaeuser railroad:  The elevated roadbed can be seen in places along Hill Road if you know where to look, such as near the old Grange building.
  • Valley View Cemetery:  I remember quite old graves in there, but haven’t been back to verify this.
  • The Mohawk General Store:  A community hub and hotspot in the early 1900’s.  The old dance hall upstairs is still there, I’m told.  It’s one of the few places inside of which you can still wear cork boots.

Hill Road is a beautiful spot to own real estate.  Buying or selling country property in Lane County can be a challenge, but a good realtor who is familiar with the area can be a great aid to you.  Realtors know more about property, its values and idiosyncrasies than anyone else. If you are interested in real estate along Hill Road or other country properties in Lane County, Oregon, please contact me.  Or you can search listings here.

Picturesque Hill Road, Lane County Oregon.  About 10 miles from Springfield.

Picturesque Hill Road, Lane County Oregon. About 10 miles from Springfield.  January ’13

Quaint scenes abound along Hill Road

Quaint scenes abound along Hill Road

Still a working barn, it shows its history.

Still a working barn, it shows its history.

Horses and other pastoral scenes are common along Hill Road.

Horses and other pastoral scenes are common along Hill Road.

Pretty pasture with the road leading off to adventure.

Pretty pasture with the road leading off to adventure.

The Mohawk General Store has stood for 99 years.

The Mohawk General Store has stood for 99 years.

The old Mohawk Grange.

The old Mohawk Grange.

Where Hill Road stops.

Where Hill Road stops.

Land Surveys and Real Estate

Surveying is a dry topic at best, at least to most of us.  Oregon Field Guide rebroadcast last week a fascinating segment on surveying, though, telling how every square mile of Oregon was surveyed back in the 1800’s, and how the practice continues to this day.  Surveying in the United States dates back to Thomas Jefferson and the Revolutionary War, but most of the original surveying in Oregon didn’t start until the 1850’s due to the Donation Land Claim Act, which encouraged even more Pioneers to come west along the Oregon Trail.  The early settlers got 160 acres for free if they improved the land and stayed for 5 years.  Interestingly, homesteading continued through the 1970s in the lower 48 States and through the 1980s in Alaska.

Unless you’re a surveyor, logger, or involved in a property-line dispute, you probably don’t care too much about surveys.  However, surveys form the basis for legal descriptions on deeds, which are, of course, critical in real estate transactions.  When you sell a property the land is conveyed by signing the deed which is then recorded at the county.  Interestingly, when you sell or convey property, the legal description only describes the land, not the improvements.  According to the Field Guide segment, a couple of deaths a year in the U.S. result from property line disputes.  Yikes.  Loggers care about property lines because they don’t want to harvest someone else’s trees, a problem known as timber trespass, which can lead to treble damages.

All surveys in Oregon, one way or another, reference the Willamette Stone, located in west Portland, and first sited in 1851.  The stone usually draws a yawn even from the most devoted real estate nerds, even if they’ve made special trips to see it.  The Willamette Stone is the intersection of the Principal Willamette Meridian and the Baseline; so it’s the zero or reference point.  The Baseline corresponds to about Stark Street in Portland, and the Willamette Meridian crosses through Walterville in Lane County.

Driving through Oregon’s splendid back-roads is a great way to spend an afternoon.  If you do find yourself driving around on BLM roads, you’ll see their baffling road signs, which consist of a series of numbers and dashes.  If you have cell service, your smart phone’s GPS can tell you exactly where you’re at, but cell service can be spotty in the country.  To use a real-life example, if you saw you were on BLM Road 19-6-16 you could get a rough idea of where you were from the sign.  (BLM road nomenclature is from the start of the road, so unless you happen to be at the start, positioning is only rough).  BLM roads are named by Township, Range, & Section.  Townships and ranges are 6 miles across, so, the example is 19 townships south of Portland, or 114 miles, and 6 ranges away from Walterville, in this case West, or 36 miles.  Remembering to draw your sections, starting with “1” in the upper right corner locates you to the nearest square mile, or in the upper northwest corner of the grid.  Where is this place?  Roughly Alma Oregon, a largely abandoned logging town, 22 miles west southwest of Eugene.

Even if you don’t drive around on logging roads, you’ll see the same type of numbering system on your Lane County property tax bill.  For instance, this is how the County shows Bell’s office on River Road:  17-04-24-34-04200.  Translating this get us 17 townships south of Portland (or 102 miles), 4 sections west of Walterville (24 miles), 24 is the section number, and 34 is the location in section 24.  34 indicates the parcel is in 3rd quarter section (bottom left) and 4th quarter of the 3rd quarter section (bottom right of the bottom left).  A section is 640 square acres, a quarter section is 160 acres, and a quarter-quarter is 40 square acres.  So, the 34 locates the parcel to within 40 acres on the globe.  This 40 square acres corresponds to an area of 1,320 feet x 1,320 feet.  04200 is the tax lot number, which doesn’t indicate position on a map.  Hideously boring?  Probably to most.

Residential property sales in subdivisions are usually described by lot and blocks, such as:  Lot 8, Block 2, Your Subdivision, as platted and recorded in Book 34, Page 22, Lane County Records.  This is clean, simple, description works because Lane County has the survey information recorded, and it can be viewed by anyone.  That survey information may involve a metes and bounds description, which isn’t something most people have ever even seen, let alone read.  Units of measurement can be esoteric at best:  links, chains, rods, furlongs, etc.  Real estate attorneys, title officers and surveyors are about the only people that can actually understand a metes and bounds description.

In the millions of dollars worth of real estate transactions I’ve done, I rarely see anyone get a survey.  It doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, it just rarely comes up.  Even on country property, where boundaries are less clear than in subdivisions, they’re not often ordered.  Sometimes, for commercial transactions they’ll be ordered to make sure buildings aren’t improperly sited.  Frequently, though, they may incorporated as part of an extended ALTA title policy, so as to have the added benefit of title insurance.  If property lines are in doubt it’s best to call a good surveyor out.

Land surveys precisely describe your real estate.

Land surveys precisely describe your real estate.