When you are considering the purchase of a property, you need to make sure that you have all the information necessary to decide about the purchase. One thing that you do need to find out is whether there are any easements attached before you buy the property. While these don't take the property away from you, they can alter how you are able to use the property and could affect your feelings about the potential purchase.
In the simplest of terms, an easement is an agreement to allow someone else to use your property without having to hand over ownership. There are different forms of easements, so finding out the specifics of the one attached to the property is important.
There are two primary forms of easements. One is the appurtenant, which is attached to the land and is transferred to new owners when the property is sold. The other type is an "in gross" easement, which applies only to the person with whom the easement was made -- so the easement won't transfer to the new owner.
On top of that information, you need to know what the easement grants. Homeowners associations and condos will usually have easements for areas that are used by the community even when they are located on private property. Utility companies might have easements in order to run lines and pipes where they need to go. A right-of-way easement enables people to pass through your property, which might be necessary if a path is needed to reach a common area or in the case of a shared driveway.
Easements should only be used as intended. It is sometimes possible to have the easement terminated if it is being overused.
Regardless of the situation, make sure that you fully understand your options before you agree to any real estate transaction.