Should we change our lot lines?

weedyacresNovember 29, 2011

We own a house on a 3.5 acre lot and the neighboring 3.5 acre lot. We're going to be selling at some time in the near future. There are 2 possible scenarios:

1. The buyer of the house wants both lots.

2. The buyer of the house wants just one lot, and we'll sell the spare lot separately.

I have no idea which scenario is more likely. The buyer might really not want a neighbor that "close", or they might say "no way" to keeping an extra few acres mowed. It could go either way. We know that the way to maximize our proceeds is to sell the spare lot at a buildable lot price, not an "extra acreage" price, and that's what we intend to do. We may discount it 10% or so for a combination purchase, but not 50-60%.

Our neighbor the next house over would like to keep the land empty, but they were unwilling to pay buildable lot price for it. They would likely be willing to split the lot with the future buyer of our home, and thus keep it unbuildable forever.

The spare lot is currently for sale, BTW (sign out front) and I get a couple calls a month on it. 1-1.5 acre lots on the same street/lake have sold for $72-78K in the past year; we're asking $85K for our 3.5 acres.

Here's an aerial view of our lots. Lot A has the house, Lot B is the spare one.

As you can see, Lot A is triangle shaped and has ~1500 feet of lakefront. Lot B is a rectangle 150 feet wide and ~1000 feet long, with ~250 feet of lakefront.

We are considering making the spare lot more desirable for a potential build by changing the lot lines to increase the lakefront footage of Lot B in exchange for some "near the house" yard for Lot A, as approximated by the yellow shapes above. The land is pretty flat near the road, and has a gradual slope toward the lake. The swap would increase the options for building a house with a walkout basement on Lot B.

Should we do it?

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I would probably leave it alone. If a buyer comes forward and desires the lot lines to be revised, that would be the time to do so. You would be incurring additional expenses by moving the lot lines, and you may not see any return. Your idea of swapping the yellow parcels sounds good, but you are also creating some very irregularly shaped lots in doing so. Some people may not like that. If you were to move the lines at all, I would keep the yellow rectangle to be given to Lot A, and I would strike a line from the upper left corner of the yellow rectangle to the lower right corner of the yellow triangle. That makes a better lot layout. You should talk to someone in your area - possibly a land developer, or a realtor that specializes in vacant lots - to see what they think about it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 2:10PM
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Bump...any other opinions? Would this change make lot B more attractive? Lot A less attractive?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 9:03AM
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If I were the buyer of Lot B, I wouldn't want that big chunk taken out. It reduces options on building closer to the road & I'd be uncomfortable with the potential for the owner of Lot A building a shed or something on that chunk.

So...I'd prefer the regularly shaped lot to what you propose, even with more waterfront. If the existing Lot B is 150' wide, a buyer has lots of room to build a house on the property as is. I doubt they'd put it over on the extended part. But that's just my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Leave both lots alone.

Lot B is similar in shape and waterfront linear footage as most other lots in the photo.

The only reason Lot A has more waterfront area is due to the strange shape of the lot.

No reason to make both lots odd shaped.

Leave them alone.

Sell them both separately as you plan, but make note in the comments that the neighboring property is also For Sale(and reference the price and MLS# of it in the comments)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I had a similar situation in Los Angeles about 6 years ago. My mother had bought an adjacent lot from the county in 1977 and the property was zoned as horse property. It was adjacent to a riding trail, but the lot was landlocked. At that time, it was a desirable situation to have land in Los Angeles and at that time, the banks were lending money to anyone (with no down payments). The problem I found was that the potential buyers could not get financing for the raw land parcel (and they all wanted no money down financing at that time). So, in order to make the property sellable, I had to get the lot line removed. The city made it very difficult & expensive -- needed a survey and lots of visits to city hall to get the job done. Luckily, I did get it done and the property sold before LA property values plummeted. So the question to ask is, whether the property would be more vaulable divided or combined. Find out about raw land financing in your area. Good luck

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 1:40PM
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I was thinking the change in lot lines would make Lot B more attractive, but it sounds like the consensus is no. We'll save ourselves the trouble of making the changes. Thanks to everyone for the input.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 2:22PM
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