vacant lot

hello every one.

so I am new to the investing game. I am looking to get experience wholesaling but there is a huge opportunity literally a block away from where I live that I cant ignore. only thing is this opportunity is a little advanced for me at the moment.

there is a vacant lot, its been vacant for some time now. its big enough for two maybe three two family houses or maybe a small apartment building. how do I go about valuing and purchasing the lot for the right price, finding the right contractors, building codes etc. basically I want to know as much as I could so I can turn this opportunity into a reality.

also I don’t have the money to do this so ill have to find other investors and lenders to donate.

if you have any personal experience I will gladly take any advice you might have as well as suggestions for reading materials.

First things to check out

Assuming you located the owner, and he is willing to sell, then you’ll have to determine the zoning for the area, by checking through the zoning maps.

You just can’t plop an apartment building an area zoned for 1 to 3 family homes without the proper variances, through community board meetings and approvals. However, if you build a 2 family house in a 2 family zone, then no further approval is needed.

Value is determined by many factors, the area it’s in, what the highest and best use is, and whether any variances are needed to achieve the best use, and if such variances can be obtained.

Before taking any needless steps, take control of the property.
The easiest way that requires the least amount of money from you is an option.
The longer the option term, the better.

Once the property is tied up and under your control, find out what it’s worth and what can be done with it.

Options are very powerful tools in real estate. You will come across as a more sophisticated investor that the seller is much more likely to take you seriously.

Figure out the story behind it

There is vacant lot a block from me. This lot is in NYC, and if it’s been vacant for some years, over 20. To do land investing, especially in NYC, find out the whole story before you do anything. I invest in NYC and looked into lots, and usually there is a story behind it.

This lot near me is large enough to build several houses, and empty long before I moved to my home in 1993. I looked into it back then and then some years after.

Turns out the Mercedes dealer across the street own it, and wants to build a small strip mall there. Unfortunately its zoned residential on that side of the street and he was never able to get a zoning variance despite trying numerous times. In NYC, he has to go to the Community Board first, get an approval, before going the County level.

The reason why he couldn’t get it is the local home owners association opposed it, and pack these board meetings with it’s members, shouting down the proposals. The Mercedes dealer then tried to invite local homeowners for coffee before these meetings and tried to convince us why he should be allowed. I went to several, met the owner, but the head of the homeowners association is politically connected and is adamantly opposed to any commercial development. So it remains vacant.

My wife worked in city planning for a suburban district where they approve construction permits. She tells me that there’s one guy they nickname “odd lot Jack” that specializes in buying up odd lots, and goes through the approval procedures. Sound easy, but he has to size up each situation first to see if its feasible for building, because not all lots are feasible. You really have to know your local zoning.

Another example. There’s an empty lot right next door to me I was interested in. It appears large enough for one house. Turns out its not build-able. It was originally two lots, but when they put up the first building, it was built several feet over onto the 2nd lot, and as such, the remaining lot is too small to put up the 2nd house profitably without a variance, such as the land building ratio among other things. So the owner of the corner house is thus stuck with the unbuild-able lot next to it.

Sounds like OP is a novice in these issues and I would recommend him going into something easier rather than than throwing away option money. There’s no need to rush in and control a vacant lot that’s been vacant for 20-40 years. Options are suitable for deals that can be resolved quickly.