Vacant Land, Lots 1 and 3, each lot is 1.5 acres, listed separately at $39,000 each

I go out and walk land to get take the temperature of the market regarding spec builders and what is possible for development. These properties have been listed on and off for a couple of years, but I hadn’t actually gone out to walk them, in part because I generally focus on Alta Sierra and Penn Valley. Most inexpensive lots in Grass Valley are inexpensive because they are unbuildable, and when they don’t sell after a year or more, I assume they have some challenge that makes them unworkable for development.
These two lots do have a couple of challenges. There is a seasonal water course that that cuts across both lots that begins just a 100 feet from the access point. It would be unadvisable and expensive to build in a water course, even if it is dry during the summer. Extensive logging has left both properties denuded of the big trees that once drank up all the water, and now there is some evidence of an erosion problem developing at the top of the draw. You take out all the big trees, and the ground starts to move. Between the steepness of the slope and the potential for unstable soil, most buyers will pass, and I can see why these properties have not sold.
Is this a nonstarter? I don’t think so. When buying land you have to ask the right questions and you have to be willing to consult experts. Before passing judgement on the viability of development an engineer with both soil and hydrological expertise would need to take a look at the property with a clear and precise property line flagging that would allow for exact determination of the necessary setbacks and specific determination of the building envelope. It looks to me like there might be one, possibly two reasonable building sites. What is the relationship to the probable building sites to the property boundaries and cost and feasibility of developing the driveways accesses? Are both lots equally developable, or is one of the two lots clearly superior to the other? And finally, would it better to combine the lots, and straddle the property boundary between the two lots for the best development potential?
These are not questions the seller or realtors can answer except in most general terms. Only an engineer or site planner can give accurate information regarding these critical questions. It might cost $3000 to $5000 to get a detailed report that would determine the development costs of these properties.
Cheap property almost always requires expert evaluation. You might spend that $3000 to $5000 to find out that this property is not viable for development. Would that have been a waste of money? If you are thinking you would not want to spend money on professional guidance in the inspection period before the close of escrow, I want to suggest an alternative approach. Money spent on inspections and reports can be a huge asset for you as the new owner. You know exactly what you are buying and have a good idea what the development costs will be once you take possession and start to put in your infrastructure.

Author: gordon

Nevada County Resident since 1988. Painting and Decorating Contractor 1985-2003 Nevada County Realtor Since 2004 Member of the Nevada County Masters Club (top producing agent) Every Year Since 2004

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